Kenya could unlock its prospects and become a regional economic powerhouse by investing in maritime training and research, a United Nations official has said. International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General, Koji Sekimizu said competent human capital is critical to the exploitation of rich and diverse maritime resources available beyond the Kenyan shores. He noted that by 2030, the global demand for professionals in the maritime sector will hit 800, 000 up from half a million currently.
The official was speaking Monday February 23, at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, which is the first University in the country to offer marine engineering training.
Sekimizu lauded JKUAT for mounting maritime engineering programme and expressed readiness of his agency in assisting the University to become a regional centre of excellence in marine training and IMO governance.
Drawing from Japan’s experience of leveraging on maritime power to foster its economic fortunes, Sekimizu further urged Kenya to put in place functional international transport corridor to enable it fully tap the immense potential lying beyond its shores.
While receiving the official at JKUAT, Vice Chancellor Prof. Mabel Imbuga said the marine engineering programme which currently has an enrollment of 150, has undergone full cycle with pioneering group having completed their course work in December 2014.
JKUAT is set to send five students to South Korea for further practical seaboard training in collaboration with Korea Maritime University in March 2015.
The Vice Chancellor thanked IMO for book donations which she opined improved the quality of marine teaching at JKUAT. The programme which is accredited by the Kenya Maritime Authority is designed to provide qualified manpower that can develop and maintain ship propulsion units, ship structures and all support machinery, as well as initiate manufacturing projects or improve existing maritime operations.
The IMO official was in Kenya for the first National Maritime Conference organized by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure. The two-day conference themed: From Land to Sea: New Frontiers for National Development got underway at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi on Monday.
Kenya has for a long time prioritized shipping, while placing less emphasis on exploitation of abundant and diverse maritime resources including oil and gas.
IMO is a specialized United Nations agency that oversees the global standard-setting for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.