Kenya bans foreign trawlers to boost local sector

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has suspended licenses of foreign trawlers as part of efforts to grow the country’s blue economy through value addition.
During the 54th commemoration of the country’s Independence, the president said the ban on foreign vessels would help increase fish processed locally seven-fold to 18,000 tonnes per year, from the current 2,500 tonnes.

“We have over 400km of rich coastline, and a share of the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. It is shameful that we exploit only a small fraction of these resources,” President Kenyatta said.

Maritime and Shipping Affairs Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu said the licences for foreign fishing vessels would be renegotiated. Only international trawlers who meet the requirement of processing the fish in Kenya, will be given new permits.

The president also ordered relevant agencies including the navy to intercept illegal fishing vessels.

Technical assistance

Mrs Karigithu added that experts from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) would offer technical assistance to senior government officials on related policies and enforcement.

“We will train these officials in maritime transport policy making and adoption, which will be integrated because there are many departments that affect the sector, including forestry. The maritime sector has the capacity to contribute 10 per cent of the economy’s GDP,” she said.

The directive is aimed at diversifying the economy and creating jobs.

According to the Fisheries Department, Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Indian Ocean has a capacity to produce over 300,000 tonnes of fish valued at more than Ksh450 billion ($4.5 billion) annually.

Despite the potential, fish exports account for only Ksh2 billion ($20 million) of the over Ksh100 billion ($1 billion) annual exports to the EU — with cut flowers, coffee, tea and vegetables taking the bulk of the exports.

In 2016, the country’s fish production dropped by 12.1 per cent to 128.6 thousand tonnes, from 146.3 thousand tonnes in 2015.

Each year, the country loses fish worth Ksh10 billion ($100 million) to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Monitoring system

The Fisheries Department recently set up a monitoring system for the country’s waters and the government also bought a Ksh3 billion ($30 million) patrol vessel that is expected to be commissioned soon.

Mr Ben Kiilu, principal fisheries officer in charge of compliance in Mombasa said in the past, they had helped arrest illegal fishing vessels that had operated in Somalia waters.

“At the moment we have enough capacity to monitor our waters and are waiting for the launch of the vessel. The system has the capacity to identify illegal fishing vessels,” he said.

Last month, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett launched boats to improve surveillance in the Indian Ocean with the view of setting up a coast guard.
Currently, local trawlers pay a fee of Ksh200 ($2) annually, which came into effect in 2013 after change of a law that required them to pay Ksh15,000 ($150) fee. Although it was introduced with the view of encouraging fishermen to venture deep into the ocean, this has not been effective.

Fish labs

In August, Fisheries Principal Secretary Prof Micheni Ntiba launched a fish laboratory in Mombasa, one of the three facilities that will be set up in the country at a cost of Ksh1 billion (10 million). The other labs will be located in Nairobi and Kisumu. At least KSh100 million ($1 million) has been released to kick start operations of the Mombasa facility.

The laboratories would ensure fish sold to foreign markets was of high quality, opening the European market to Kenyan fish.

The President’s directive comes on the backdrop growing concerns that cheap Chinese fish was flooding the Kenyan market, killing the local fish industry.

China’s fish exports to Kenya crossed $10 million in 2015, as fresh, chilled and frozen fish topped the list of Chinese imports targeting Kenyan consumers, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

In 2016, Kenya’s fish production dropped for second consecutive year, with total fish output dropping by 12.1 per cent to 128.6 thousand tonnes, from 146.3 thousand tonnes in 2015.

Kenya and Uganda to collaborate on SGR

Kenya is banking on the reduced cost of clearing and moving goods from the Mombasa Port to Uganda and the progress of the standard gauge railway project to revive its bid to extend the line to its neighbour.

During a bilateral meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at State House, Nairobi, on Tuesday, Kenya said the speed of clearing goods and the upcoming cargo trains are the answer to Uganda’s transport needs.

President Kenyatta said that the completion of the second container terminal increased the port’s overall holding capacity to 1.65 million containers per year, with its capacity expected to hit 2.7 million containers per year once the three-stage project is complete.

“The modernisation programme has resulted in reduced average time to import and export goods through the port of Mombasa – from 11 days to under 3.5 days – and work for even greater efficiency continues,” State House said in a statement.

Cargo
And with the commissioning of the Inland Container Depot at Embakasi, President Kenyatta told his counterpart that more goods would be transported by train.

“This will further shorten the time of moving goods from Mombasa to Kenya’s hinterland and neighbouring countries as well as the cost for doing so by a further 30 per cent,” the statement added.

Uncertainty hit the joint Kenya-Uganda SGR project after Uganda said it was considering building a railway through Tanzania instead.

It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of the cargo handled at the Port of Mombasa is destined for markets like Uganda, with 11.2 million tonnes of cargo moved between the two nations annually.

Trade
On his part, President Museveni told President Kenyatta that “Uganda was ready and committed to the SGR project, and would work with Kenya to achieve its commitment”.

Mr Museveni had in July approved the borrowing of $2.9 billion for the construction of the railway from the Malaba border to its capital Kampala, giving the clearest signal yet that the regional infrastructure project was back on track.

“Both Presidents agreed on working jointly on taking the SGR line from Naivasha to Kisumu and onwards to Malaba on the border with Uganda,” a statement from State House said after the joint meeting.

The line to Kisumu, the statement added, will also serve Uganda through the Lake Victoria ports of Jinja, Masaka and Entebbe.

Tuesday talks largely focused on the SGR and the East African Community.

Phase Two of the SGR – Nairobi to Naivasha – is on course, and is expected to be completed in 2019.

From Naivasha, the Heads of State agreed that the line would be done jointly towards the border in Malaba, Busia County onwards.

Uganda had already earlier committed to ensure that at least 80 per cent of all cargo its cargo would be transported through SGR.

Amisom

On Somalia, where Kenyan and Ugandan soldiers have joined the African Union Mission, President Museveni agreed to convene a meeting of Chiefs of Defence Forces from Troop Contributing Countries to discuss progress in the mission.

Thereafter, State House said President Museveni would consider convening a summit of the countries with troops in Somalia.

“On the continued deployment of troops in Somalia, the leaders emphasised that it was necessary for the Somali government to continue building and strengthening its national army,” the statement said.

Further, President Museveni will convene a meeting of EAC Trade Ministers in Kampala in January to chart the way forward on the European Union aid as a follow-up to discussions held in Brussels earlier in the year.

Somalia Gets First 4G Internet

On Saturday, telecom company, Somnet launched the first 4G network in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu where “hundreds were seen making long queues at the Somnet headquarters to purchase the 4G simcard,” Dalsan Radio Mogadishu reports.

 

The services will now enable Somalis to resume internet services via their mobile phones that was ended in 2004 when militant group Alshabaab threatened Hormud Telecommunication company to cease its 3G services in the country.

4G internet technology is the latest and fastest in the smartphone technology. The internet has become vital to the lives of mainly urban Somalis .and is always make headways in rural Somalia.

 

With a large population of Somalis living in the diaspora, internet has eased communication with the motherland.

 

Since the 3G simcards were halted, Somalis have been forced to use Wifi modems which is relatively cumbersome compared to a simcard.