The maritime domain encompasses among others fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport and logistics, extractive industries, culture, tourism, leisure and lifestyle and  contributed 1.83billion US Dollars to the Kenyan economy in the 2015.It is projected that by 2019 the amount will grow to 4.3billion in addition to creating job opportunities for the Kenyan marine labour force.

The components of blue economy include activities like seafood harvesting, extraction of minerals, extraction of energy sources, fresh water generation, generation of off-shore renewable energy, transport and trade, coastal development, tourism and recreation and waste disposal for land based industry.

There is therefore need to come up with holistic solutions to the existing marine infrastructure gaps for accelerated economic growth by ensuring adequate utilization of natural, technical and human capital coupled with good will and appropriation of funds to derive the full benefits of blue economy.

Statement of the Problem:

Africa has an infrastructure deficit of KShs. 9.5trillion per annum for the next 20years and Kenya’s infrastructure deficit is 178.5billion per year and the need to allocate a sustainable expenditure of KShs.340billion annually for the next 10years to meet the country’s infrastructure needs. This is despite Kenya having a large exclusive fishing zone with potential to produce 300,000 tonnes of fish annually estimated at about   75 billion compounded by an annual deficit of 800,000 tonnes, which is filled through imports  and hence the need for intervention.

It is notable that Kenya has focused mainly on the fishing industry and associated services within the blue economy. Fisheries account for only about 0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generate employment for over two million Kenyans through fishing, boat building, equipment repair, fish processing, and other ancillary activities. Therefore, the full economic potential of marine resource has not been exploited, given that Kenya has a maritime territory of 230,000 square kilometres and a distance of 200 nautical miles(370km)  offshore, which is equivalent to 31 of the 47 counties.

Kenya’s per capita consumption of fish has gone up to seven kilos from two kilos in 2008 but the country is yet to attain the full potential in fishing at the Indian Ocean among other marine zones.

Under the Exclusive Economic Zones, Kenyan fishermen are allowed to fish up to 200 nautical miles (370km) from the shores but even then they are operating short of five nautical miles for lack of appropriate fishing gear to explore the deep sea waters.

Kenya has a large exclusive fishing zone with potential to produce 300,000 tonnes of fish annually estimated at about  75 billion. However, it is yet to optimally utilise the opportunity  and for that reason the Kenyan government continues to import fish to meet the widening deficit, due to dwindling stocks both in the aquatic and marine space. Consequently,Kenya has an annual deficit of 800,000 tonnes, which is filled through imports and this injurious to economy in terms of balance of trade.

Lake Victoria, traditionally a major source of fish in the country, is currently suffering from depleted stocks. The stocks have been dwindling because of the use of wrong fishing gear and overfishing.

The Kenyan government has taken corrective measures such as restocking of the lake and curbing illegal fishing.

It is therefore necessary to come up with holistic scientific innovations and integrated national policy aimed at maximising on the economic benefits of blue economy with emphasis on the maritime infrastructure and equipment.  Some of the areas where fishing & blue economy harnessing take place in Kenya are: the Indian Ocean, Shimoni, Kilifi, Malindi, Mtwapa, Lake Victoria, Lake Jipe, Lake Turkana, Lake Naivasha, Lake Baringo, River Tana, Masinga Dam/Reservoir ,Fish ponds at Sagana in Kirinyaga County.

The construction works include jetties, berths, break waters, quays, retaining and diaphragm walls, boat ramps, dolphins, sheet piles, marinas and pontoons; maritime floating homes, cable cars along Likoni  channel. Equipment include fishing and preservation equipment and the necessary contrivances engineered to enhance performance of the blue economy for accelerated economic growth.

Theoretical concepts:

Blue economy infrastructure cuts across several engineering disciplines like civil engineering, mechanical and manufacturing engineering, electrical engineering, geomatic engineering and other specialized areas of engineering. These fields act singly or in combination when it comes to marine infrastructure feasibility, design, implementation, operation and maintenance. The infrastructure in the blue economy is varied but essentially combine to serve common purpose and hence the need to classify them.

Typical physical infrastructure in the blue economy include:

  • Mooring structures
  • Protective structures
  • Industrial structures(ship and boat building, ship repairs & conversions, offshore energy and mining)
  • Transport structures(ports and harbours, cable cars)
  • Tourism, leisure & lifestyle(floating homes)
  • Fishing equipment/gear(trawling, lining, drifting, seining,)


Mooring structures :

Based on their principle of design mooring structures are classified either as of solid construction or open construction.

Types of mooring structures:

  • Marginal berths
  • Pier
  • Jetty
  • Dolphin
  • Roll-on-roll-off ramp

Solid construction:

  • Marginal berths comprising
  • Gravity wall quays(Caissons quays, Block wall quays, Cell quays)
  • Sheet pile wall quays(Simple sheet pile wall quays, Solid platform quays, Solid platform quays, Semi-platform quays)
  • Protective structures


The function of breakwaters is to protect water masses and their facilities from waves, winds, currents, sedimentation.

Types of breakwaters:

  • Sloping breakwaters(Rubble mound, Concrete block type)
  • Vertical breakwaters(Concrete block type-upright break water, Concrete block type composite, Cellular concrete block type composite break water, Caisson type upright breakwater, Caisson type composite break water, Caisson armoured with wave dissipating concrete block)

Main points to consider in the infrastructure construction:

  • Materials(origin ,type, quality and specifications)
  • Construction(level of technology required and availability of trained workforce)
  • Merits and demerits(trade-offs between the available choices and the overriding considerations)
  • Use-condition for use or choice
  • Design: Information required for design, Design procedure, .Design

Granted, a fishing facility/port is an industrial zone  for unloading ,processing and marketing fish  as well as for maintaining and servicing the fishing fleet .In consequence ,a fishing port is an integral part  of the national fishing industry rather than part of the country’s transportation system. A modern fishing port is thus desirable as an important element in promoting the fishing industry of a country.

Facilities for handling a fishing fleet can be in the form of a wharf or jetty in shallow water, usually at the extremity of the normal cargo-handling areas or in a special basin. This separation is desirable to isolate  fishing smells from commercial port operations. Where fishing is a more important activity, a quite separate, well-selected location is needed. If the number of boats to be accommodated is considerable ,a large area of sheltered water is required, while the numerous facilities will necessitate the provision of substantial space  on land.

Local fishing boats can be expected to have a maximum draught of 2metres,while large motor trawlers  and fish carriers may draw upto 3.5metres.Berthing facilities for high- sea fishing with large trawlers require a 4metre draught. An unloading quay apron width of 6metres is sufficient. The apron should have a slope towards the water front, normally of 1 in 20,to facilitate washing down.

The length of unloading wharf should normally be sufficient to complete the unloading of all boats active in the local fleet during the peak period. The factors to consider when determining the length of quay as follows:

  • Average and peak number of vesssels unloading their catch at one time
  • Quay length per vessel required during unloading
  • Average and peak quantity of catch unloaded per vessel
  • Unloading speed, including preparation time before and after the actual unloading
  • Time available for unloading

For hygienic reasons and to preserve a high degree of quality of the fish, the unloading operation should be carried out as quickly as possible. Quayside cranes or derricks may be required ,and in special cases pneumatic systems, vertical and horizontal conveyor belts, bucket elevators or pumps may be used.

After unloading, the boats are normally berthed herring-bone fashion or double banked. The berthing space required  will depend on the number of boats ,peak periods  determined by national holidays or fishing patterns, and the availability of mooring or anchorage areas.

A covered hall, extending the length of the wharf, is needed for washing ,sorting, boxing, weighing, icing, marketing, distribution and possibly storage. The hall should consist of two sections separated by a wide alley-way. The waterside section, used mainly for washing fish, should slope to the waterside and may be 8metres in width ;the land wide side, used for sorting  and packing ,should be of similar width and have a rear loading platform for trucks. The total width  of the hall should thus be approximately 25metres.

The floor of the shed should be provided with an anti-skid surface. In the shed ,running water and electric power for lighting must be available. The water supply is often separated into a fresh and sea water supply ,with the latter having high pressure and capacity for cleaning purposes. The electrical system requires special specifications  because of the wet and corrosive environment.

Open areas for drying and repairing nets, for repairing boats, and for slipways and a workshop are needed. Further infrastructural facilities needed include:

  • A cold storage plant
  • An ice-making plant
  • Provision stores
  • Gear sheds
  • Fuel tanks
  • Electric lighting
  • A fresh water distribution system
  • Fire-fighting equipment
  • Offices, rest-rooms and a canteen
  • Fish processing plants
  • Fish-meal factories


The main impediment in the harnessing of the Kenyan blue economy is the enabling port and inland infrastructure and trained skilled manpower and woman power to put the sector on the global map as a key player in regional and global economy.

The institutional structures necessary include an integrated national maritime policy, accreditation of universities to design and offer engineering courses tailored to meet the maritime blue economy.

There is need for design and operationalization of additional berths for specialized services on the blue economy, mechanising blue economy operations for increased discharge/loading operations and reduced turnaround time as well as reduced local shunting trucking capacity in times of peak demands and improved average waiting time(average waiting time has been contained to an average of 2.5 days in the last 5 years).

Need for homegrown engineering solutions to modern maritime infrastructure ,fishing gear, spare parts processing facilities.

The need for resource mapping and development of master plan with a view to increasing the number and capacity of Kenyan ports to cope with global trends.

The need to carry out comprehensive spatial planning to include use of blue economy for ,inter alia, sporting facilities, cable cars, maritime floating homes as habitation facilities, transport and tourist attraction points for accelerated economic growth. This is also important for clear boundary delineation.


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