The Kenyan government is set to breathe life into the dormant boat and ship repair industry in Mombasa County, aiming to recover an estimated Sh300 billion lost annually to foreign entities. Through the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), the government plans to transform the port city into a regional ship repair hub.

KMA Chairman Hamisi Mwaguya revealed that a master plan has been formulated to support private sector involvement in revitalizing the industry. He emphasized the potential for recouping funds spent on sea freight by encouraging local shipping lines to dock in Mombasa for minor repairs and services.

The ambitious plan will be executed through a Public-Private Partnership, fostering job creation, skill development, and attracting international maritime business. Currently, Mombasa hosts two struggling private ship assembling and repair companies, African Marine and General Engineering Co Ltd and Southern Engineering Co. Ltd (Seco). These companies, despite facing challenges due to unfavorable working conditions, have assembled vessels for Uganda and Tanzania.

Mwaguya noted that collaboration with the private sector is crucial to amplify the industry’s scale. As part of the maritime strategic plan, the government aims to empower locals through blue economy projects, leveraging the completion of the Dongo Kundu Southern Bypass for improved accessibility.

In addition to job creation, the government plans to convert existing ferries into floating restaurants, connecting Mombasa, Diani, and Mtwapa to attract tourists. Mwaguya highlighted the importance of enforcing laws like the cabotage law to protect the domestic shipping industry, fostering intra-Africa trade.

As the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) aims to boost intra-African trade, Mwaguya emphasized discussions on how the maritime sector can contribute to AfCFTA’s objectives. The government’s earlier plan to recruit 200,000 seafarers by 2027 aligns with these efforts.

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