Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in conjunction with Newcastle University, United Kingdom recently concluded a one-week joint workshop through the Newton Utafiti Fund. The workshop, facilitated by Dr. Robert Kiplimo and Dr. Simon Benson brought together established researchers drawn from the four UK universities (Newcastle University, Liverpool John Moores University, University of Southampton, and University of Sussex) and Kenyan Maritime institutions and industry in order to explore practical steps to spur sustainable marine manufacturing to support the growth of blue economy in Kenya. The workshop was held partially at SAJOREC Centre (JKUAT), Nairobi and at Royal Court Hotel, Mombasa. The participants were not only availed the unique opportunity of sharing research expertise but also of networking and building long term research links. Although the workshop focused primarily on the future of marine manufacturing in Kenya, various other sub-themes were also explored. The workshop consisted of a number of practical sessions in which the various sub-themes were discussed. Participants were subdivided into groups based on individual research interests which aligned with specific thematic areas.
The first group was tasked with examining the sub-theme “Towards sustainable shipping”. Participants in this group had active brainstorming sessions focussing on energy efficiency, reducing air pollution and the impacts on the Kenyan maritime sector. The second group explored “Improving maritime safety” which highlighted the challenges on inland waters, inshore operations such as fishing and offshore safety. In the third group the sub-theme “Developing marine manufacturing, services and education” focused on the future potential maritime economy including the development of skills and innovation to support new maritime-related economic growth was explored. The fourth group had an interactive session on linking coastal communities to the maritime economy focusing on the wide variety of maritime activities that impact coastal communities, particularly those away from current economic centers. Important questions for participants to consider collaborative areas of research were raised with the workshop concluding with each group producing a set of potential research projects including a title, objectives, work plan, impact, and potential funding.
The participants included Prof. Richard Birmingham, Dr. Simon Benson, Dr. Alan Murphy, Dr. Serena Lim, Dr. Musa Bashir, Prof. Raminder Kaur, Dr. Nick Townsend, Prof. Bernard Ikua, Dr. Robert Kiplimo, Dr. Hiram Ndiritu, Dr. Christiaan Adenya, Ms. Mary Ngugi, Ms. Anne Njonjo, and Mr. Shem Onyango.
Dr. Simon Benson summarized the workshop by thanking all the participants not only for their time and active involvement in the road mapping sessions but also for providing insightful solutions and way forward to guide stakeholders in future policy and strategy towards Kenya’s marine manufacturing sector.