EXPERT COMMENT

Unlocking economic dividends from Kenya’s Blue economy

It presents vast opportunities for sustainable economic growth and job creation.

In Summary
  • Synergies between the Blue Economy sectors and other sectors of our economy should be determined and maximized.
  • From a practical or business perspective, it is no secret that private sector players are expected to be Kenya’s drivers of growth.
A ship loaded with cooking oil at Kisumu Port for export to Uganda on Lake Victoria.
KISUMU PORT: A ship loaded with cooking oil at Kisumu Port for export to Uganda on Lake Victoria.
Image: MAURICE ALAL

Kenya’s pursuit of the Blue Economy has received renewed vigor with a view to unlocking economic potentials arising from the same.

It is now well understood that the Blue Economy presents vast opportunities for sustainable economic growth and job creation.

However, in order to harness the full potential of the Blue Economy, it is necessary to encourage and foster an innovative culture that is willing to grasp opportunities as they present themselves, and take calculated risks targeted at maximizing these opportunities.

For this, a Blue Economy Strategy is imperative to enable us to access and tap into economic dividends promised by the Blue Economy.

The Blue Economy envisages innovative and sustainable economic activities stemming out of our vast maritime resources.

However, this concept can be expanded to not only include maritime resources such as oceans, seas and coasts, but also in-land water resources such as rivers, lakes and dams.

This expanded definition serves to widen the reach of the Blue Economy, which consequently increases the opportunities for growth, development and job creation, within the sphere of the Blue Economy.

However, as noted above, the promise of national success through harnessed blue resources is all but automatic.

This is particularly true in the dynamic world we live in. Simply put, in order for us to achieve national success through the Blue Economy, relying on tried and tested blue economic activities will not be enough.

Rather, we must innovate in order to maintain a relevant presence in the global Blue Economy debate.

From a policy perspective, this requires conducive environments that reward innovation rather than stifle the same.

This requires forward-looking and innovative thought from our policymakers, with a view to ensuring that regulation does not serve to discourage innovation from business players but encourages and supports the same.

Toward this end, forward-looking policymakers should determine barriers to innovation, such as under-investment in knowledge, poor access to finance, skill shortages and insufficient research efforts and make a concerted effort to effect policies that seek to overcome these barriers.

It is expected that recent financial support from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), together with a renewed governmental focus on the Blue Economy will go a long way toward addressing the above-mentioned concerns.

From a practical or business perspective, it is no secret that private sector players are expected to be Kenya’s drivers of growth.

To enable this, private sector players are encouraged to develop novel, efficient and sustainable ideas that will enable us sustainably harness our maritime and inland blue resources.

Private sector players are further encouraged to invest in the novel but promising industries, from the production of clean energy through harnessed maritime energy, to diverse fields such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and aquaculture.

Additionally, synergies between Blue Economy sectors and other sectors of our economy should be determined and maximized.