Blue Invest Africa 2024 kicks off in Kwale County
07/03/2024 18:21 in News

By Patrick Chiriba

The Blue Invest Africa 2024 forum officially commenced today in Diani, Kwale County, drawing international attention to Africa's blooming blue economy.

This second edition of the forum, initiated by the European Commission, aims to unlock the potential of Africa's marine and aquatic resources through strategic investments and partnerships.

President Ruto's vision for Kenya’s Blue Economy

In his opening speech, read by Mining and Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya, President William Ruto underscored the critical role of the blue economy in Africa’s sustainable growth.

He highlighted the continent's rich blue economy resources, including oceans, lakes, rivers, and underground water, which present immense opportunities for job creation, economic resilience, and food security.

“The Blue Invest Africa Forum is a great opportunity for African entrepreneurs seeking financing. The interaction with international investors will unlock opportunities capable of propelling Africa's blue economy forward,” President Ruto said.

"By fostering a spirit of collaboration and partnership, we can transform the blue economy into a powerhouse of job creation and economic growth," he added.

The Head of State detailed Kenya's substantial investments in the sector, including over sh20 billion in various programs and projects, such as the development of a Marine Spatial Plan and the establishment of Shimoni and Liwatoni Fishing Ports and Processing Plants.

He emphasized the need for private sector engagement and innovative technological integration to drive sustainable practices and mitigate climate change impacts.

“Private investors play a crucial role in this journey. By investing in our entrepreneurs and innovators, you are not only supporting individual ventures but also laying the foundation for a thriving, sustainable blue economy,” the President stated.

He added: “These entrepreneurs are the pioneers of new technologies and sustainable practices that will drive growth and ensure the long-term health of our marine ecosystems.”

 

Salim Mvurya addresses the audience at BlueInvest Africa 2024 (Photo: Ali Amir)

Strategic investments and innovation

Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs, Salim Mvurya, echoed the President's sentiments, stressing the importance of structured investments to spur entrepreneurship and innovation within the blue economy sector.

"Investment in the blue economy is vital for the realization of the benefits. These investments should fund research and innovation that will spur entrepreneurship along the various value chains in the blue economy sector," Mvurya said.

He acknowledged the challenges, such as policy gaps, limited capacity, and climate change, but highlighted the potential for strategic interventions through partnerships with investors, research institutions, and development partners.

“These challenges offer great opportunities for strategic interventions through strategic and integrated sustainable investments in the blue economy space. These can be achieved by fostering functional partnerships with investors, research institutions, private sector, and development partners and resource mobilization,” the CS stated.

Empowering African entrepreneurs

Principal Secretary, State Department for the Blue Economy and Fisheries Betsy Njagi called for a unified effort to protect and leverage marine resources for sustainable growth.

Blue Economy & Fisheries PS Betsy Njagi delivering her opening remarks during the Blue Invest Africa 2024. (Photo: Ali Amir)

"The blue economy offers a unique opportunity to address some of Africa's most pressing challenges, from job creation to climate resilience, technology innovation, and community empowerment," she said.

“I encourage all of you to engage fully, collaborate openly and innovative boldly. Together, we can turn the tide and make the blue economy a cornerstone of Africa's economy.”

Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani underlined the region's role in promoting marine conservation and sustainable development.

The host governor highlighted the county’s initiatives, which she said have already yielded significant benefits.

“Kwale County is a pioneer in matters blue carbon finance and has benefitted from more than 30 million Kenya shillings from carbon credit from our own projects,” the governor added.

 

DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva and Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani speaking during the Blue Invest Africa 2024 Forum in Diani. (Photo: Ali Amir)

Record participation and future prospects

This year's event has seen a remarkable increase in interest, with over 300 pitching from 42 African countries, a significant rise from the inaugural edition in 2022.

The forum provides a platform for African entrepreneurs to pitch their projects to international investors, fostering a collaborative environment for growth and innovation.

"The overwhelming interest in this event demonstrates that Blue Invest Africa is necessary and fills a gap in connecting entrepreneurs with the financial and investment community," said Charlina Vitcheva, Director General MARE Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

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