- Sote Hub director David Ogiga on Saturday said there is a need to get more people to venture into the blue economy and come up with innovations that will tackle major problems and open up the economic potential of the sector.
- He said there is a need to increase the percentage of fish supply from the Indian Ocean but for this to happen, fishermen need to be empowered with better fishing gear.
Kenya lacks requisite innovators in the blue economy sector, which has a huge untapped potential, a digital expert has said.
Sote Hub director David Ogiga on Saturday said there is a need to get more people to venture into the blue economy and come up with innovations that will tackle major problems and open up the economic potential of the sector.
Sote Hub is a startup support centre in Nyali, Mombasa County, which provides co-working space, incubation and business seminars for young innovators.
It uses digital technology to train youth and MSMEs from rural Kenya and the urban poor, who are often marginalized and have fewer opportunities, for career progression or business growth and successfully launch or scale into markets.
“The blue economy currently has many challenges. In fisheries, for example, 80 per cent of fish consumed in Kenya is from Lake Victoria. Where are the Coast and the marine fish?” Ogiga said.
He said there is a need to increase the percentage of fish supply from the Indian Ocean but for this to happen, fishermen need to be empowered with better fishing gear.
“Currently, most use artisanal equipment which limits their ability to catch fish in the deep seas,” Ogiga said.
He spoke during the media launch of the Blue Economy Investment Summit which is expected to place from October 27 to November 3.
The summit will bring together different players connected with the blue economy including university students, businesspeople, start-ups, off-takers, financial institutions, and government officers.
Ogiga said there is little value added to the fish caught in the Indian Ocean.
“So how do we enhance our products from the sea? When you do value addition, then you create jobs but also you get more money,” Ogiga said.
He noted that fishermen at the Coast lose up to 40 per cent of their catch because of a lack of cold storage facilities.
This forces them to sell their catch cheaply so as to get rid of them before they go bad.
“And now climate change is affecting fish. In cage fish farming, for example, you go to your fish cage one day and you find all your fish dead because the water quality has changed and there is a lot of pollution,” Ogiga said.
He said the creation of awareness of the blue economy potential will avail opportunities that youth can take advantage of.
For the upcoming summit, Sote Hub is working with the national and the Mombasa county government to ensure it succeeds.
Ogiga said the summit has three crucial parts – technical, community and financial parts.
The technical part will see industry leaders showcase the innovations coming up in the blue economy.
The community part will see officers involved in the blue economy go out and create awareness on matters of blue economy, environmental issues and climate change.
The financial part will involve the creation of some sort of a deal room where innovators and startups will be able to meet potential investors and win some cheques.
“Then we have the government - and we are glad the county government is working closely with us – and we will be looking at what policies they have and which programs they are implementing,” Ogiga said.
Mombasa County Secretary Jaizan Farouq said the county will partner with organizers of the summit to promote the county and its objectives.
Farouq said the all the activities will be geared towards seeking employment opportunities for Mombasa youth.
He acknowledged that the blue economy has vast opportunities that remain largely untapped.
Climate change, he said, is one of the areas where youth can find innovations that can address matters that are brought about by the phenomenon.
“That is why we have launched digital hubs in Makupa and Sote Hub in Nyali. These digital hubs create employment opportunities for the youth apart from offering solutions to problems affecting the society,” Farouq said.
He said currently, there are digital solutions in the water sector with smart meters being installed in houses to replace analogue meters.
Smart metres are expected to address the problem of non-revenue water which leads to loss of revenue for the county government of Mombasa.
“We are also looking for digital solutions in our health sector. We have launched the NHIF cover for over 16,000 indigent families in Mombasa.
“These will be getting medical cover for free, fully sponsored by the Mombasa county government. They will be using this cover in all our facilities,” Farouq said.
He called on youth to get involved with the digital hubs across the county.