Apr 28, 2020

Part 2 : where we stand as a country.

As a country, Kenya stands to benefit immensely from the blue economy. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Blue Economy has an asset base of over $24 trillion and is said to generate over $2.5 trillion every year from a combination of fishing and aquaculture, shipping, tourism and other components of the blue economy.The western Indian Ocean region, where Kenya lies is said to be possessing 333.8 billion of the total ocean asset base. Other countries within the Western Indian Ocean region include, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa Tanzania, France, Comoros and our lovely country Kenya.The estimated annual economic value of goods and services in the marine and coastal ecosystem of the blue economy in the Western Indian Ocean is over US$22 billion with Kenya’s share slightly over US$4.4 billion (20%) with the tourism sector taking the lion’s share of over US$4.1 billion, according to the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) estimatesThis leaves the other components of the Kenyan Blue economy, namely, fisheries, maritime transport, offshore renewable energy, aquaculture among others contributing accounting for way less. From this data, it is safe to conclude that our country has done little to exploit the other components of the Blue Economy. As a country we are faced with an uphill  task of coming up with new strategies that will put us somewhere as far as these sectors are concerned.


What are the components of the blue econom? You may wonder. The blue economy has diverse components, including established traditional ocean industries such as fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport, but also new and emerging activities, such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive activities, and marine biotechnology and bioprospecting. A number of services provided by ocean ecosystems, and for which markets do not exist, also contribute significantly to economic and other human activity such as carbon sequestration, coastal protection, waste disposal and the existence of biodiversity. The mix of oceanic activities varies in each country, depending on their unique national circumstances and the national vision adopted to reflect its own conception of a blue economy.

These components of the Blue Economy can only be harnessed if we first identify the contributions of marine and fresh water ecosystems to our country.

Economic contributions of marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Food security, nutrition and health: Fish contributes over 16 percent of the animal protein consumed by the world’s population and 6.5 percent of all protein consumed, with 1 billion people relying on this source of protein. Fish is also a particularly critical source of nutrition. Even in small quantities, provision of fish can be effective in addressing food and nutritional security among the poor and vulnerable populations around the globe.

Livelihoods: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that fishers, fish farmers and those supplying services and goods to related industries assure the livelihoods of as many as 660–820 million people worldwide. In addition, women play a critical role in fishery supply chains – it is estimated that women account for 15 percent of people directly engaged in fisheries and up to 90 percent of jobs in secondary activities (particularly in fish processing, whether in the formal or informal sector). Oceans and coasts also form the foundation for extensive employment in tourism - one of the top five industries in most small island states

Sustainable economic growth: Many developing coastal and island nations depend on tourism and fisheries for a significant part of their gross domestic product and public revenues. Aquaculture is projected to continue to grow rapidly and if done sustainably, can serve as a major source of food and a cornerstone of the blue economy. Advances in seaweed production hold promise for replacing fishmeal and animal feeds with plant materials produced with less pollution. Tourism, and particularly nature￾based tourism, also provides an important path towards the sustainable development of marine and coastal ecosystems. Coastal tourism is a key component of small island state economies. The value of nature-based tourism is expected to increase over time as the supply of pristine natural assets declines while demand, which seems impervious to economic shocks, increases with rising GDPs.


Trade: Seafood is the most highly valued internationally traded food commodity in the world, with 36 percent of all fish produced exported in 2013-2014. At US$139 billion in 2013, the export value of fish is more than double that of the next most traded commodity – soybeans. More than half of the fish trade originated from the waters of developing countries.

Non-economic contributions.

Mitigation of climate change: Oceans constitute a major sink for anthropogenic emissions, absorbing 25 percent of the extra CO2 added to Earth's atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. ‘Blue carbon’ sinks like mangrove forests, sea grass beds and other vegetated ocean habitats are up to five times as effective as tropical forests at sequestering carbon.

Homes and shelter: Roughly 40 percent of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast. Healthy coastal ecosystems provide protection from natural hazards, coastal erosion and rising sea levels particularly in SIDS and low-lying, exposed delta regions.


As a country, we must be able to identify clearly the components of the blue economy before we can go into formulating policies and taking steps.For a sustainable blue economy, the three dimensions of sustainability must be considered, (economic, social & environmental dimensions).The Social aspect has eluded us as a country for a long time.There is a need to sensitized our people and brace them for the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead. Components of the blue economy should be well known by all citizens.Contributions of marine and fresh water ecosystems as highlighted above should be common knowledge.

Written by Amos Bungei

the author is a Marine engineering student with  passion for the marine sector and finance.


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