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Uhuru commissions Bandari Maritime Academy to boost Coastal economic base

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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, HON UHURU KENYATTA, CGH, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA, COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES, DURING THE COMMISSIONING OF THE BANDARI MARITIME ACADEMY, MOMBASA, ON 8 JULY 2019. Distinguished Guests, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, It gives me profound pleasure to be in Mombasa once again to continue the journey we started in 2016, a journey to recover a lost dream.  The dream is to rebuild our rich seafaring tradition in fisheries and shipping, and to fully utilise the resources found within our waters to expand our economy, create jobs for our youth and feed our people. Let me start by thanking Members of Parliament for passing the necessary legislation to support the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line. Your continued support, for which we are grateful, is critical in ensuring that our country achieves its dream of becoming a strong maritime economy. We are making good progress on this journey. You will recall, in November last year, I launched the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), to secure Kenya’s territorial waters and protect the country from threats that emanate from the sea.  Since then, the Coast Guard Service has maintained daily patrols of Kenya’s waters to guard against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, provide safety to seafarers, and prevent drug smuggling and other illegal movement of people and goods. As part of the efforts to revive the coastal region and expand its economic base, we are rebuilding and upgrading the fishing infrastructure.  I am very pleased to note that even before the rehabilitation of the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex is completed, there are already 12 Kenyan flagged fishing vessels that are utilizing the facility. And more exciting is that close to 400,000 metric tonnes of fish have landed since the facility was re-opened in November.  This may appear small but it is a significant step towards the recovery of thousands of jobs for our fishermen. To boost the fishing industry, we have provided additional resources and approved an attractive set of incentives.  These measures will support the development of designated fishing ports at the coast, facilitate landing of fish by deep sea fishing vessels and finance aquaculture technology and innovation transfers. As part of this effort, and to ensure that we can land at least 30 percent of fish caught in our waters, all gazetted fish landing sites in our waters are being recovered and secured for the benefit of the fishing community.  In addition, construction works have commenced on five fish landing sites, notably: Kichwa cha Kati, Ngomeni (Kilifi County) and Gazi, Kibuyuni, and Vanga (Kwale County) and two fish markets at Malindi (Kilifi County) and Likoni (Mombasa County). Our vision is to position our country globally as a nation that is harnessing its, ocean resources in a sustainable manner, to benefit current and future generations.  We are, indeed, emerging in the world as a rising maritime nation.  You will recall we hosted the Blue Economy global conference in Nairobi in November last year.  In furtherance of our vision, we will be co-hosting the UN World Ocean Conference with Portugal, in Lisbon, in June 2020.   Among the many benefits of such global events is the opportunity to establish new investment and partnership opportunities. Today we take two major steps towards recovering our lost dream.  The first is the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line.  The shareholding agreement we have signed today, marks the beginning of our well thought out plan to transform the Kenya National Shipping Line into a world class shipping line, over the next ten years.  Kenya has always aspired to establish domestic shipping and maritime capacity.  In 1966, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia formed the East African National Shipping Line, which, at its highest throughput held a market share of approximately 11 percent.  It was dissolved in 1980.  The Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) was established in 1987 as the National Carrier to handle containerized exports and imports freight cargo, to and from the ports of Kenya.  For various reasons, however, the Kenya National Shipping Line failed to grow into an effective national carrier. We are here to revive that vision.  The revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line will enable Kenya to benefit from the regional and global maritime transport value chain.  About 90 percent of Kenya’s foreign trade is dependent on maritime transport.  Taking part in our own maritime transport services will enhance the contribution of the sector to the national economy and, and make the cost of our goods more competitive. The Mediterranean Shipping Company has been a strategic partner of the Kenya National Shipping Line since 1997. The Agreement we have just signed will, thus, deepen this partnership and enable Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), to more effectively support the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line. Ladies and Gentlemen,The Mediterranean Shipping Company is the second largest shipping company in the world; and the only one that owns both cargo and cruise ships.  We are, therefore, fortunate that, through this reinvigorated partnership, we can quickly grow our shipping capacity by riding on its wings. The Agreement we have signed is expected to facilitate growth of traffic throughput at Container Terminal 2 to over 1 million TEUs, create 2,000 seafarer jobs and 1,500 sea-time training opportunities annually.  The bulk of these seafarer jobs will be generated through cruise shipping. While there are huge opportunities for Kenyans to serve in foreign ships, they have lacked opportunities to get sea time, a pre requisite for serving on ships.  The Mediterrenean Shipping Company has committed to create training opportunities for our youth and to provide about 3,000 jobs per year; and provide 1,500 sea time slots for Kenyan youth.   The seafarers we are flagging off are the second lot under that commitment. It is also important to note that because of the partnership with the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the Kenya National Shipping Line will gain access to more than 500 ports across the world. Moreover, that partnership will enable our Shipping Line to strengthen the cruise shipping sector, jump start tourism and, indeed, coastal agriculture and agro-processing. The second step we are taking today is the commissioning of the Bandari Maritime Academy.  The Academy has been identified for accelerated development into a Centre of Excellence in maritime training, research and skill development in the blue economy.  The Academy is expected to become a top supplier of world class seafarers for shipping lines all over the world.  To enhance skills and ensure they meet the highest possible standards, the Bandari Maritime Academy will partner with the Kenya Utalii College, the Kisumu Maritime Center and establish twinning arrangements with the Mediterranean Shipping Company Training Academy in Naples, Italy.   I am confident that the enhanced training will bring out the best in our talented young people. As we were informed earlier, the sixteen (16) seafarers we flagged off last November have become a source of pride for Kenya.  Well done, Elizabeth and your fellow seafarers.  Kenya is proud of you! Today we flag off sixty two (62) seafarers out of the One hundred and nineteen (119) that have been recruited by Mediterranean Shipping Company.  I am very pleased to note that fourty (40) of them have already been assigned a ship, by the Mediterranean Shipping Company. Our coastal people should be happy to know that twenty two (22) of them are from this region. For the seafarers we are flagging off today, I urge you to emulate the first cohort.  You are Kenya’s ambassadors in the sea, we need you to help re-establish the reputation of Kenyan seafarers, as professional, trustworthy and hardworking. Such a reputation will attract more companies to recruit from Kenya.  For the new Bandari Maritime Academy Board of Management, I want you to know, you are charged with a heavy and important responsibility.  Kenyans expect you to build the Kenyan Seafarer Brand, with a vision of placing a Kenyan on every shipping vessel sailing around the world.  We have confidence in you; and I assure you of my personal support and that of my Administration. In closing, let me thank most sincerely the Management of the Mediterranean Shipping Company for accepting to walk this journey with us.  This will, no doubt, transform the lives of many, many Kenyans. I also want to thank all Kenyans from the Coast and from across the entire country for your continued support of the plan to revitalize our blue economy.  We will make every effort to ensure this programme to transform the coastal region, is a success.  I promise to be back here in a few months’ time to flag off the first ship and send more young people to sea. 
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