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Govt pledges to strengthen maritime safety, security

24 February 2015, 08:20

Nairobi - Kenya's very first National Maritime Conference kicked off in Nairobi on Monday with government vowing to strengthen maritime safety and security to help exploit maritime resources.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who opened the two-day conference also called for closer cooperation, and effective coordination of all maritime policy at the different decision- making levels both at regional and continental levels.

"Given that the maritime industry is the carrier of 92 percent of our international trade by volume, and given the importance of international trade to our prosperity, the choice of investment was prudent too," he said.

Kenyatta said a special focus must be put on training so that the country's maritime skills match the infrastructure being developed to exploit maritime resources. He said that a public university will soon start to offer training in maritime studies.

He asked Transport, Labor, Education and the National Treasury Cabinet Secretaries to put in place measures that will ensure the country's youth are equipped with skills that will enable them to take advantage of the maritime industry.

Kenyatta said that Kenya's maritime domain which extends over 230,000 square kilometers - the equivalent of about 31 of the country's 47 counties which he said has not been fully tapped by Kenyans.

Kenyatta said this potential can no longer be ignored, adding Kenya has begun to realize the vision of the African Union with its huge investments in port, road and rail infrastructure development whose aim is the seamless flow of cargo.

The conference was convened to discuss and develop a national action plan on how Kenyans can benefit from the country's maritime resources.

Also read: Kenya, Sychelles gang up on piracy in Indian Ocean

The conference came amid fall in piracy cases off the coast of Somalia since Kenya deployed its troops to Somalia in 2011.

The African maritime industry, along the Indian Ocean had then been greatly affected by piracy that had raised the costs of shipping as insurance companies and private ship security companies increased their premiums to mitigate the risks.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Koji Semizu described maritime resources as the "blue economy," saying a lot needs to be done to fully develop the sector.

He said Africa has huge potential in maritime development and IMO is ready to help African countries' action plans.

Semizu added that IMO will work with the UNDP and other UN organizations to ensure support for African countries. He asked Kenya to draft a maritime policy in order to exploit the benefits of the "blue economy."

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- Xinhua


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