Foreign fishing in KenyaAn international crackdown on piracy in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) in recent years has successfully reduced the number of Somali attacks. Ironically, this has left East African waters more vulnerable than ever, with foreign fishing in Kenya becoming a major issue.

The presence of Somali piracy along the East African coast, which peaked in 2011, doubled as a deterrent to international fishing vessels in the WIO. Declining piracy has exposed Kenya, one of Somalia’s neighboring countries, to increasing threats to its vulnerable offshore waters. Foreign fishing fleets from East Asia and Europe are now descending on the unprotected waters of Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), causing the country to lose millions of dollars to illegal fishing activities.

Recent research by Fisheries Center Research Reports (FCRR) shows that these foreign fishing fleets have become a significant source of unreported catch, raising concerns about food security in Kenya.

Foreign Fishing in Kenya

The resource-rich waters of the East African coast have not gone unnoticed, as evident in the increasing levels of foreign fishing in Kenya.

Kenya’s waters are exploited by fleets from countries including Seychelles, Mayotte, Spain, France, Italy, China and Taiwan. In 2014, Kenya licensed 44 foreign fishing vessels to fish in its EEZ. It is likely that this figure saw an increase in the subsequent years due to the growing maritime stability. However, lack of transparency is still a major issue and the government is yet to publish any updated data on foreign fishing licenses since then.  In addition, foreign vessels do not always declare their catches despite a legal requirement to do so. Some research estimates that foreign fishing catch is up to 68,000 tonnes every year, which is already over 80% of the estimated potential of Kenya’s offshore fisheries.

Local fishers have also reported seeing foreign trawlers fishing in shallow inshore waters at night, adding extra pressure to the already strained coastal reef fisheries.

Reports suggest that illegal foreign fishing in Kenya, i.e. catch by unlicensed vessels, costs the country an estimated $100 million per year. Although, reliable information on illegal fishing is severely lacking. As such, the illegal foreign catch in Kenya’s EEZ is likely even higher than current estimates indicate.

Kenya’s Blue Economy Agenda

Marine fisheries are crucial to food security and livelihoods in Kenya’s coastal communities. Inequality remains high in the country, with coastal communities experiencing a poverty rate of up to 62% compared to the national average of 36%.  This means that these communities rely heavily on natural local resources such as fish for nutrition and income.

Most local fishers in Kenya use simple, non-motorized vessels to fish in sheltered waters close to shore. There are around 14,000 of these small-scale fishers along the coast and their catches contribute 98% of the total marine catch in the country. This also means that inshore ecosystems experience substantial fishing pressure. Overfishing of these ecosystems has resulted in drastic declines in reef fish abundance, leaving coastal livelihood in jeopardy.

Although recent fisheries management changes are helping in the gradual recovery of reef ecosystems, Kenya’s marine fisheries remain largely small-scale. As a result, inshore ecosystems continue to bear the brunt of fishing intensity, while rich offshore resources stay unexploited.

Kenya lies within the productive tuna belt of the WIO, where 20% of the world’s tuna catch originates. Based on estimates, the country’s offshore fishery potential is at 150,000 tonnes per year. Despite this, reports suggest that Kenya’s total marine catch is only 24,000 tonnes, with tuna species making up less than 2%.

To harness this “untapped potential”, the Kenyan government intends to expand the country’s coastal, small-scale fisheries by enhancing its domestic capacity for industrial tuna production and trade. By developing fisheries-related infrastructure and capabilities, a key priority in Kenya Vision 2030, the country hopes to better utilize ocean resources to support social and economic development. This economic plan is known as the ‘blue economy’.

Safeguarding Offshore Waters

A major reason for the prevalence of illegal fishing in Kenya’s waters is the lack of monitoring, surveillance and enforcement capacity. Kenya’s coast guard has a single vessel, the MV Doria, and despite numerous accounts of illegal fishing, there has never been an arrest.

Recent advances in satellite tracking technology provide an opportunity for Kenya to improve the detection and apprehension of vessels fishing illegally in its waters. Neighboring countries like Tanzania are demonstrating that satellite tracking systems alongside a well-resourced coast guard and international partnerships with enabling Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can deter illegal fishing vessels.

Looking Ahead

According to the reports, Kenya has the potential to enhance its food security, employment opportunities and economic development, as well as increase its share in the global blue economy by replacing foreign fishing in its EEZ with the sustainable expansion of domestic fishery.

– Amy McAlpine
Photo: Flickr

Industrialization in Kenya
With a current growth rate hovering between 5 and 6 percent, Kenya is one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Industrialization in Kenya, as part of Vision 2030, is a priority that could help transform the agriculture-dependent country into a developed economy. According to Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, its three main goals include increasing foreign investment, improving the business environment and reducing corruption. Kenya has a massive goal of reaching a GDP of $211 billion. That would be approximately the same GDP as Romania in 2017. Kenya’s GDP increased from $18 billion in 2005 to $78 billion in 2017. The 2017 figure was $17 billion more than expected. China is one foreign investor that sees potential in developing Kenya’s economy.

Why Develop Kenya?

One side effect of developing an economy is a reduced poverty rate. Approximately 60 percent of Kenyans work in the agriculture industry, which is typical for developing economies. A developed economy such as the U.S. involves a mostly service dependent economy.

A drought-affected part of Kenya in 2017 slowed GDP growth, increased inflation to 8 percent and harmed the economy. President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the need for industrialization in Kenya and the country’s dependence on agriculture. Vision 2030 includes increasing manufacturing from 11 percent of Kenya’s GDP to 20 percent of its GDP and focuses on developing its oil, minerals, tourism, infrastructure and geothermal sectors.

Businesses and countries investing in Kenya could add jobs for Kenyans, help diversify into a new market and improve trade between the two entities. Foreign direct investment was $1.6 billion in 2018. The United Kingdom, China, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Africa are the main investors. Banking, tourism, mining, infrastructure and information and communications technology are some of the investment sectors for these countries.

First Steps to Industrialization in Kenya

China is a major investor in Kenyan infrastructure. The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) costs $3.6 billion and connects the capital with the largest city in Kenya. The China Road and Bridge Corporation hired more than 25,000 Kenyans to work on the railway that opened in 2017. It extended the railway to Naivasha in October 2019. More than one million people rode the SGR in 2018.

China Road and Bridge Corporation also invested in the Nairobi Southern Bypass Highway that relieves congestion through the capital city Nairobi by redirecting traffic to and from the port city of Mombasa. Mombasa has a population of over three million and receives visitors from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan. “There is no doubt the infrastructure projects financed and developed by China are making a huge impact in the country, especially when you look at the ease of travel and employment opportunities,” said Philip Mainga, managing director of Kenya Railway Corporation.

The World Bank also helped rural regions with its Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project. The project involved the construction of more than 60 miles of roads. Also, the project built 52 miles of footpaths, 66 miles of drainage canals, 39 miles of sewer pipelines, 68 miles of water pipelines and 134 security lights by its end date of November 2019.

Progress Ongoing in Kenya

Various organizations completed many other projects that have benefitted millions of Kenyans. Vision 2030 includes ambitious goals that will benefit its economy and people through job growth, key sectors growth and poverty reduction. One of Kenya’s key sectors, tourism, already saw a 5.6 percent growth in 2018, which is higher than the global average of 3.9 percent. The Information and Communication Technology sector saw an average growth of 10.8 percent since 2016, giving Kenya its “Silicon Savannah” name. Kenya’s poverty rate continues to decline as the country develops. Its poverty rate lowered from 46 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2016, demonstrating that progress is ongoing in poverty reduction and industrialization in Kenya.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

schools_in_nairobiThe internet has been a major agent in combating global poverty. Connectivity gives access to a new world of information and has revolutionized sectors ranging from finance to health in the global community. However, the internet has had perhaps its greatest impact in education, in which it gives students and teachers access to previously unknown quantities of information.

That’s why it’s great news that over 2,000 schools in Nairobi will be getting free internet.

This innovative solution comes from a project called WazED, through a partnership of telecommunications company Wananchi Group, the Kenya Education Network and the County Government of Nairobi.

WazED will put a total of 2,715 schools across Nairobi county online.

The program is a natural step for the nation Wananchi Group non-executive chairman Richard Bell calls, “the fastest growing ICT hub in the region.” Kenya has continued to be one of the most innovative nations in terms of helping people with technology, with services ranging from mobile finance platform mPesa to mobile education projects such as Eneza Education.

WazED is connected to Kenya’s “Vision 2030” goals, which seek to build a more politically just, economically thriving, and socially equitable Kenya by 2030. The Vision 2030 goals recognize the importance of all sectors of life in their achievement and particularly embraces technology as an important means of social change. And because of the educational potential that improving internet access in schools brings, this makes sense.

Connecting people to the internet is one of the most effective ways of empowering them. Online, not only can one find the most extensive collection of data and news imaginable, but an incredibly wide spectrum of ideas are also present. Connecting Kenyan schools to the internet is an incredibly important step in empowering the next generation and fighting against digital resource inequality.

Andrew Michaels

Sources: CIO, IT Web Africa, allAfrica, IT News Africa, Kenya Vision 2030
Photo: CIO