KENYAN BLUEPRINT TO BLUE ECONOMY SUCCESS: PART 1
The Kenyan Success story is something that we all yearn for as Kenyans. We are a country that has so much potential in many spheres of life, ranging from our wonderful cultural heritage and beautiful scenery and wildlife that attracts tourists to Our oil reservoirs in the Northern part of our country. Our potential knows neither bounds nor barricades.
Yet somehow, our ability to blossom and flourish economically and socially has been curtailed by our failure to see the things that really matter.As a country, our leadership has developed a myriad of economic strategies and policies that have in most cases hit the wall and bounced back without meaningful impact. Were the policies poorly implemented?, maybe... Were the policies devoid of originality?!.... Definitely... I dare say that as a country we need to come up with policies that not only empower our people but also can be powered by our people. We need policies that are backed by our people. These are the policies that bear fruit.
The Blue economy is one of the sectors that has been lagging behind due to our country concentrating on land-based economic activities. The blue economy has a great potential to contribute to higher and faster GDP growth in Kenya. Innovation and growth in the coastal, marine and maritime sector could deliver food, energy, transport, among other products and services and serve as a foundation for sustainable development in Kenya. Diversifying the country’s economy beyond land-based activities and along its coastal, marine and maritime sector is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This is especially important in the context of the accelerated growth that the country is experiencing without any concomitant reduction in poverty.
Such phenomenon has been distinctly shown by South Korean Republic. Squeezed between larger nations and strapped for natural resources, the country has relied on strong government support and a proactive trade policy to build a resilient economy in just a few short decades.South Korea has particularly invested in the Blue Economy and the Maritime sector through by empowering its people to laverage and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the sea.
BUILDING A BLUE ECONOMY CULTURE.
Operationalizing the Blue Economy requires a mindset change based on an holistic and integrative approach to spatial economic planning and development. The process of formulating the Blue Economy policy would, therefore, benefit from a concerted effort of sensitization and awareness raising for all stakeholders in order to build a culture of new ways of thinking. The consultative process and engagement with media (including social media) can be useful in this effort.
As a country we need to change the mindset of our people first and work towards empowering them so that we can create a sound blue economy policy.It is not enough if our leaders have secluded meetings without bringing our people on board. This is especially important in the context of the accelerated growth that the country is experiencing without any concomitant reduction in poverty.Reduction in poverty will generate motivation for our people to further pursue the fruits of the blue economy while at the same time generating investment capital.
Written by Amos Bungei
The author is a marine engineering student with a passion for the marine sector and finance.