President Uhuru Kenyatta will Monday join maritime sector stakeholders in commissioning the Bandari Maritime Academy at the Kilindini Port in Mombasa County.
The new Bandari Maritime Academy, previously Bandari College, is a centre of excellence in maritime training and was established as part of ongoing reforms in the maritime transport industry in the country.
Through the academy, the Government aims at bridging the huge shortage of qualified seafarers in Kenya and the region to meet the needs of the emerging blue economy sector.
President appointed Prof Muragu Kinandu as the chair of would-be Bandari Maritime Academy board for a period of three years starting May 3, 2019.
According to a gazette notice issued on November 16, last year, the institution shall “be an institution of excellence in teaching, training, scholarship, innovation and research in maritime skills”.
Blue economy is an important sector in the growth and development of our economy. It has the potential to contribute up to 4.8 billion US dollars to the country’s GDP and create over 52,000 jobs in the next 10 years.
Bandari Maritime Academy will provide advanced education and training to appropriately qualified candidates, leading to the award of diplomas and certificates and other such qualifications.
Given the emerging job opportunities in Kenya’s off-shore oil and gas exploitation, Kenya needs to streamline the recruitment and training of seafarers so that they can take up the opportunities.
According to the International Chamber of Shipping, African seafarers are less than 25,000 out of the world’s 1.5 million seafarers.
South Africa has only 1,500 seafarers while numbers from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria combined are much lower than that!
The continent of Africa has a long way to go catch up with advanced maritime nations. For long many have viewed seafarer job as unimportant and for the uneducated, but this erroneous view could be denying the African continent as a whole a great economic opportunity.
However, it is pleasing to note that the African Governments and Maritime authorities have recently demonstrated their need to work together towards developing the current maritime labor market.
This would involve adopting a continental approach to the African maritime industry, as captured in the African Maritime Transport Charter, and liaising with the maritime organizations, recognized all over the world.
Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have been championing project to address education, training and safety needs of the seafarers.
As they do that they may also address the gender issue; women represent between 1 and 2 per cent of the world’s 1.5 million seafarers serving on some 87,000 ships.