Kenya launches bid to host blue economy conference

By FAUXILE KIBET

Kenya has kicked off its plan to host the International Conference on Blue Economy scheduled to be held in November. The East African country is now seeking to raise between Sh700 and 800 million to facilitate the conference.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau revealed that country will act as a guarantor of the conference which will be the first of its kind to be hosted in Kenya.

“We need to raise somewhere between $7 million and $8 million to undertake this conference and because it is not a United Nations conference, the government will be the guarantor,” he said while addressing journalists in Nairobi, Tuesday.

He revealed that already, Canada which has donated $2 million has offered to have Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to work with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to co-host this conference.

During last year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting last year, the East African country announced plans to host the Blue Economy Conference set to be held in November.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta revealed that during last year’s conference, member countries who attended agreed on the pivotal of importance of oceans and seas to people from member states, and to the planet’s prosperity.

“Oceans, we now know, not only provide great value in maintaining life sustaining climatic conditions for all of us, but also provide enormous value in the form of the blue economy that can be tapped to help accelerate economic growth and fight poverty in all our nations,” President Kenyatta said.

The announcement comes as over 150 African delegates and speakers are expected to attend the first Africa Blue Economy Forum (ABEF) to be held in London on 7-8June 2018, to coincide with World Oceans Day.

The African Union has adopted the Blue Economy as an integral part of the its Agenda 2063 and the forum which will bring together African experts including government ministers, business leaders, ocean experts and environmental and maritime organizations to discuss the economic contribution of the African oceans.

The debut forum will address this agenda and enable businesses and policy makers to understand, explore and invest in Africa’s blue economy, to harness its potential and create a sustainable business

model for the future.

“At ABEF 2018, we will discuss crucial issues, such as how the blue economy can help create jobs and accelerate sustainable growth and development across the continent,” said Leila Ben Hassen, founder of
ABEF 2018 and CEO of the event’s organizer, Blue Jay Communication.

“We will also examine which economic policies will facilitate better ocean economy and open up opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs. In Africa, where 70% of the states are coastal, the
ocean is not only a key driver for global trade but is also a major source of food and energy,” she added.

Paul Holthus, President and CEO of World Ocean Council, an official partner of ABEF 2018 on his part remarked that the World Ocean Council will address cross-cutting issues affecting ocean sustainable
development, science and stewardship.

“We are committed to advancing the development and implementation of industry-driven solutions to ocean sustainability challenges. ABEF 2018 is a key gathering for raising awareness and developing the
network around the African ocean economy and especially the sustainable development and related business opportunities that Africa has to offer”.

The blue economy covers aquatic and marine spaces, including oceans, seas, coasts, lakes, rivers and groundwater. It includes a wide range of productive sectors, such as fisheries, aquaculture, tourism,
transport, commerce and trade, shipbuilding, energy, protection and restoration.

Kenya is expected to use the conference on the blue economy to position itself to host the 2020 UN Oceans Conference.