On February 23, 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened the first edition of National Maritime Conference at Kenyatta International Conference Center, Nairobi. The conference ending on 24th February 2015, is themed ‘From Land to Sea; New Frontier  For National Development’ has attracted people from government, development partners, industry players and the public. It is a culmination of enormous collective efforts of many institutions, organizations and individuals whose interest is to develop a clear foundation on exploiting resources that lie in the maritime domain.

In addition, it will provide a forum for interaction between Kenya’s government, investors and potential investors in the maritime sector, stakeholders and the public with the aim of creating awareness to the immense potential in the sector.

National Maritime Conference is an educative forum organised by Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) to chat a way forward for expanding the maritime industry and promote integration in national development. KMA is charged with a statutory role to coordinate the implementation of policies relating to maritime industry which translates integration of the policies into the national development plan and national growth.

Speaking at the inauguration, President Kenyatta said “The key principal objective of this conference is to consider how best to use the sector and develop a clear national action plan in which Kenyans can benefit from. It is clear that we should focus on providing training and education to the young people on the importance of maritime trade. I call upon the private sector to partner with us in offering maritime training so that every individual can take his or her rightful place in the region and the world.”

“The Ministry of Education will establish a center of excellence in one of the public universities to offer specialized training for the maritime industry. My government will continue to support International Maritime Organization (IMO) in its quest to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping. We will ensure that Kenyans build a rapport and international standards on international shipping,” he stated.

“I hope that the National Maritime Conference will convince you that Kenya’s ocean space and the Coastal strip together with the associated developments such as offshore oil and gas exploration, shipyards, port facilities, fishing and tourism will present great opportunities for investments. Our effort to establish the maritime sector as one of the key drivers of the economy is in line with the African Maritime strategy 2050, remarked CS Transport and Infrastructure, Eng. Michael Kamau.
The governor of Tana River, Amb. Hussein Dado claimed that the country and counties are endowed with highly productive open sea with abundant and diverse maritime resources but the area is less exploited. Sustainable development of Kenya’s maritime sector should focus on development of income generating economies and job opportunities. County governments look forward to making transport more affordable and low carbon to incorporate the fast growing economy while promoting social cohesiveness.

“The Kenya’s maritime administration organised this conference to draw closer key industry players, policy makers and investors in efforts to discuss and figure out what challenges and opportunities the transport sector will bring into the emerging economy. The conference will give ways in which the maritime authority can support this growth for sustainability and prosperity in the long term,” KMA Chairman, Dr. Digore Kitambi asserted.

Making her presentation, KMA Director General, Mrs. Nancy Karigithu affirmed that countries like Singapore, United Kingdom (UK) and Australia among others have realized the value of the maritime sector and has in turn ripped more benefits for their economies. The Kenya Maritime Authority seeks to use this conference to bring together Government and stakeholders to agree on the way forward in order to encourage investments in the whole range of opportunities available in the sector.

In 2010, African Union (AU) formulated the African Maritime charter. The charter recognizes matters relating to how Africa’s oceans and waterways are interlinked. Thus, the African maritime policy must therefore be developed coherently. The charter in which the Government of Kenya ratifies and supports forms a significant step for the coordination of maritime policies.

The maritime domain offers a wide range of integrated economies that can positively impact the lives of many Kenyans if fully exploited. Kenyans opt to adopt policies that will lead to transformation into a blue economy through sustainable exploitation of the marine resources.
Also in attendance was, Secretary General, International Maritime Organization (IMO), Mr Koji Sekimizu and other Cabinet Secretaries from the Ministry of Energy, Information Technology, Environment, Water and Natural Resources and Defense.

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