Coming just a month after the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre-Africa (MTCC Africa) has concluded the first phase of its third pilot project aimed at establishing a baseline inventory on emissions at the Port of Mombasa.
The pilot project has entailed the collection of historical data obtained from Kenya Ports Authority’s Vessel Traffic Systems (VTS) for the years 2019 and 2020, covering both foreign-going and domestic vessels within the Port of Mombasa.
According to MTCC Africa Project Lead, Ms. Lydia Ngugi, the ongoing pilot project is especially important, because it will inform regulations and policy formulations, as well as legal frameworks that will guide decarbonization, not just at the port of Mombasa, but also in the region.
“Kenya is a signatory of the Paris Agreement, as well as to the agreements that were recently formulated at COP 26. This pilot project will contribute significantly to the National Action Plans on Decarbonization that will promote green corridors, and a sustainable maritime future,” she opined.
Ms. Ngugi was speaking Thursday December 16, 2021 in Mombasa, during a week-long engagement on the pilot project with researchers and experts drawn from MTCC Africa consortium members; Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), and the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).
With the data collection phase completed, the consortium members are currently working on the data analysis and the drafting of a report to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Upon its completion, the third pilot project is expected to definitively give a picture of emissions by ships at the port, covering both Greenhouse Gas emissions and air pollutants.
In most African countries, there exists no baseline inventory on emissions, and lack of this data means corrective measures on decarbonization cannot be taken. This is according to Michael Mbaru, a greenhouse gas expert and an environmental officer at the Kenya Maritime Authority.
“There was therefore a gap, and this was part of the reason we settled on this particular pilot project. I’m excited that with it, there will be a paradigm shift, and we shall have a roadmap on emissions. With verifiable facts and figures, we will no longer be wading in the dark. With this study, we will seek to determine the factors of emissions at the port, and consequently give recommendations that will see the port become more efficient and operating at its optimum,” added Mr. Mbaru.
Some of the facts the study seeks to find out include the amount of time ships take in the port, which contributes to emissions. From the amount of time spent at berths, in anchorage, and when the ships are maneuvering to show when the emissions are high. It will also look into ship speeds, ship type and capacity, as well as fuels used as factors of emissions at the port.
According to IMO, maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.89% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It further projects that these emissions will increase significantly if mitigation measures are not put in place swiftly. According to the 3rd IMO GHG study, shipping emissions could, under a business-as-usual scenario, increase between 50% and 250% by 2050, undermining the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Eng. Dr. Hiram Ndiritu, the MTCC Africa Project Director, remains hopeful that with the close working relationship the project has had with various maritime stakeholders in the country, implementation of recommendations from the pilot project should not be an issue. He maintains that a sustainable exploitation of maritime resources in the country and region is a goal within reach despite challenges.
“The beauty is that we have on board industry players in the maritime sector and focal point stakeholders to see through the implementations of some of the guidelines and recommendations that will arise,” he adds. Florence Bett, a Pollution Control Inspector at the Kenya Ports Authority holds similar sentiments, with an appeal to stakeholders to rally behind the recommendations that will arise from the study.
“The maritime industry must come together to implement and enforce the regulations and recommendations that will come up from this study,” opines Bett.
These recommendations could include the need to use cleaner fuel in ships for more efficiency, speed reduction programmes, optimizing port operations, streamlining cargo handling turnaround times, legal frameworks and regulations on emissions, and in the long-term, the establishment of shore power at the port.
Shore power would be a highly effective method to reduce marine diesel air emissions by enabling ships to shut down their auxiliary engines and connect to the electrical grid to provide them with power while docked.
Ms. Ngugi concludes by affirming that Africa has a huge potential in the blue economy space, but that, without a sustainable exploitation in a clean environment, there will be no blue economy to exploit.
“My rallying call to our current and potential global, regional and local partners is that the results of these pilot projects we’ve carried and continue to carry out are demonstrable and actionable across the continent and the world. Join us in this journey, and in the spirit of leaving no one and no country behind, let’s implement them and continue to invest in this noble cause of decarbonization,” she concludes.
MTCC Africa is hosted at the JKUAT Mombasa Campus, and is an initiative by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and European Union Commission, forming part of the Global MTCCs Network (GMN).