President Uhuru Kenyatta received a special award from the African Union Commission (AUC) on Tuesday evening for his role in hosting the world’s first blue economy conference.
The conference began on Monday and ends on Wednesday.
Uhuru was honoured for mobilising and bringing the world together for a successful and historic conference attended by more than 18,000 delegates from 170 countries.
AUC chairperson Moussa Faki commended Uhuru for taking a leading role in driving Africa’s blue economy agenda as well as ensuring the continent harnesses its share of marine resources.
The award was given during a banquet hosted by the AUC in honour of heads of state and government and delegates attending the conference, Uhuru said Kenya is proud to push a global agenda to ensure Africa benefits from the expansive and lucrative blue economy.
He said the continent’s blue economy resources have been exploited by others for many years and it is time for Africans to come together to harness the remaining resources.
“Africa has not benefitted from this depleting resource. The continent needs to come together to exploit the remaining resources for the benefit of the continent and the future of mankind,” Uhuru said.
He said his government will continue working closely with the AU towards a successful blue economy agenda.
Uhuru thanked the AUC for the award, saying the honour belongs to the “great people of Kenya”.
The banquet was hosted at a Nairobi hotel and attended by Deputy President William Ruto and AU’s special envoy for infrastructure Raila Odinga.
The AUC awards were presented in three categories to recognise countries, associations and individuals who have made significant contributions towards Africa’s blue economy agenda.
Besides President Kenyatta’s award – described as special and the most important – other African leaders recognised as champions of the continent’s blue economy campaign were the presidents of Togo Faure Gnassingbé and Seychelles’s Danny Faure, who was present, and the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth.
The AUC also recognised Canada for co-hosting the Nairobi conference alongside Japan.
The AUC chairperson said the blue economy agenda was important to the African continent, adding that 90 per cent of Africa’s exports are transported through maritime routes.
“This is why our heads of state and government have decided to prioritise the blue economy,” he told the delegates.
He said the blue economy was a new frontier for Africa and thanked President Kenyatta for taking a leading role in its promotion.
The AUC chairperson called for prudent management of the resource and respect for the marine ecosystem which he termed as a blessing.
The three-day conference ends with resolutions to guide Africa on how to harness, protect, sustain and manage its marine resources.