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Coast factories set eyes on blue economy, seek to expand trade

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KPA pilot boat, Mombasa, August 2020. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Manufacturers from the Coast region have called on the State to facilitate the sector to expand production for local the domestic, regional and international markets.

They noted that there were numerous economic activities that local producers could take up with the rise of the blue economy and called for incentives from the government.

Speaking during the inaugural Manufacturers Summit and Expo over the weekend, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) chairman Mucai Kunyiha explained that there are numerous economic activities such as shipbuilding and fisheries that the local producers could exploit to increase exports for the country and hence propel the blue economy sector.

“The blue economy offers immense economic activities including ship-building for the domestic and regional markets, which Kenyan firms have the capacity to deliver,” said Kunyiha.

The forum was held at Wild Waters Centre in Nyali.

Kenya, said Kunyiha, has immense potential as an industrial country and the blue economy provides them with a chance to demonstrate entrepreneurial acumen and innovation.

This includes value addition for industries such as glass, salt, seafood, recycling and marine transport, he noted.

KAM Coast chapter vice-chairman Abdalla Athman said the local sector has many businesses that have survived generations and should be sustained.

“The local manufacturing sector has many businesses that are being run by the third generation from their founders and it is important that they survive for future generations,” he said.

He cited Southern Engineering Company in Mombasa County that is building ships, boats and ferries for the local and regional markets.

“These are major milestones that need government support. We do not need to import ferries, ships and boats. As we build the blue economy, Kenya has all the necessary technical expertise to deliver equipment and facilities for the various industries,” Athman noted.

He added that the country was evolving in terms of population growth, urbanisation and devolution, and called for local manufacturers to find ways to use each county’s local resources to produce goods for local consumption and export to the region.

“Kenya has an abundance of untapped maritime resources along its coast. Immediate government and other stakeholder initiatives have focused on helping coastal communities develop those resources in a way that is sustainable and that provides economic opportunities for women and youth and developing new work streams, like small-scale fisheries, waste recycling, aquaculture and tourism,” he argued.

Since 2005 the Mombasa Port Development Programme has seen significant investments in improving port capacity and efficiency.

Cargo volumes in Mombasa port rose from 14.4 million tonnes in 2006 to 27 million tonnes in 2017 and are expected to reach 44 million tonnes by 2025. 

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