he Kenya Coast National Polytechnic (KCNP) is constructing a Regional Flagship Marine Transport and Port Logistics Centre in Kwale County where it has received a donation of the 40-acre piece of land from the County Government at Waa.
The construction of this Maritime Centre is part of a World Bank-funded project under the East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP), which will equip graduates with the skills needed to exploit the ‘Blue Economy’ that has largely remained underexploited due to the human resource gap.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the Ksh. 1.2 billion projects happened in December 2022 at the Waa area of Matuga Sub County and was presided over by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs Mr. Salim Mvurya.
This ultra-modern facility will be a Regional Centre of Excellence for the East African region. CS Mvurya said that the Government will promote sustainable investments in the blue economy resources and unlock the potential of the ocean frontier to contribute to economic growth.
Once complete, the Centre will equip trainees with relevant knowledge and skills in port logistics and marine transport to cater to the country’s maritime interests and place the region as a maritime powerhouse. The Blue Economy has been described as a ‘sleeping giant’ and argued to be the next economic growth frontier that the government has been very keen to exploit in recent years.
The Indian Ocean presents an abundance of untapped opportunities for sustainable economic growth and the Centre is part of an effort to avert this shortcoming. The project is dubbed ‘East African Maritime Institute and is seen as a regional project where KCNP has already set a precedent by running student exchange programs.
For instance, KCNP and Arusha Technical College (ATC) have enhanced their collaboration through a student exchange program that on 11th March 2023 saw the two Regional Flagship Training Institutes (RFTIs) exchange 20 of their students at the Horohoro border.
The Centre will also offer world-class maritime training on the blue economy to students drawn from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The regional Maritime Centre will be dedicated to the training of professionals in the maritime industry in such fields as shipbuilding and repairs and will be a ‘game-changer for the maritime sector.’
KCNP, Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and experts from the Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council (CDACC), are developing Competency-Based Curricula in collaboration with experts from the industry to ensure that the training that will be offered by the Centre rhymes with the industry needs.
Some of the Curricula that have so far been developed include Cruise Animation Levels 4 and 5, Marine Blasting Level 5, Marine Welding and Fabrication Level 5, Marine Painting Level 4, and Port Logistics Level 6.
Others include Cargo Handling Operator Levels 4 and 5, Marine Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technicians Levels 4 and 5, Marine Plumber Level 4, and Ship’s Cook.
The first phase comprising tuition and administration blocks will take 18 months to complete and will be a state-of-the-art facility for trainees pursuing the global marine transportation industry.
The second phase of the institute aims at developing competent graduates for the maritime sector and will be launched immediately. The first phase will be completed by 2024.
“Once the facility is up and running, it will play an active role in the promotion of safe and secure waters in the region and engage diverse stakeholder groups to unlock the ‘Blue Economy” Ms. Mary M Muthoka, the Chief Principal of KCNP, who also serves as the Council’s Secretary said.
What the region is witnessing is a significant investment in the maritime industry and will in the long run enhance student and professional mariner experiential learning, according to Mr. Mvurya.
The Center, according to Ms. Muthoka, will collaborate effectively with key stakeholders to ensure that the training offered is aligned with the needs of the industry and undertake continuous auditing of its programs to meet the changing times.
Industry stakeholders estimate that the ‘Blue Economy’, if properly implemented and harnessed has the potential to create over 52,000 jobs in the next ten years besides having the capacity to inject KES 470 billion into the economy.
The EASTRIP project was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and covers Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The project supports the development of highly specialized Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs as well as industry-recognized short-term certificate-level training and targets regional priority sectors in transport, energy, manufacturing, and ICT.
EASTRIP is a five-year project financed as a loan of USD 210 million and a grant of USD 83 million. USD 8 million of the grant went to the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) to facilitate and coordinate the project and implement regional initiatives that would promote the mobility of students and faculty within and beyond the region and establish a community of practice of Technical Vocation Education and Training (TVET) in the region. Based on competitive selection, 16 Regional Flagship Training Institutes (RFTI) were selected. Each flagship institute will specialize in a specific sector and occupation with niche programs in highly specialized TVET diploma and degree programs, as well as industry-recognized short-term courses. EASTRIP has, therefore, strengthened the capacity of the 16 RFTIs to produce skills for the regional sector markets in transport, port management, energy, light manufacturing, and ICT.
Some of the TVET institutes have already signed MOUs with industry partners to collaborate in the development of demand-driven training programs, student internships, faculty attachment, and sharing of the latest training technology, scholarships, and other win-win partnership programs.
For instance, KCNP with the support of the EASTRIP project received the 5th consignment of equipment for the Marine School on 16th May 2023. These included simulators, firefighting equipment, training boats, and lifeboats, among other equipment.
The IUCEA, as the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU), has been mandated to coordinate the development and implementation of the EASTRIP work plan, and the project implementation manual, undertake monitoring and evaluation, coordinate capacity-building initiatives for the RFTIs and share good practices across the three (3) countries.
Following this mandate, the IUCEA conducted a monitoring and support mission in KCNP on 5th June 2023. The agency was accompanied by Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officers from the National Project Coordination Units (NPCUs) of the three (3) East African countries: the Republic of Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia.
The second phase of the institute aims at developing competent graduates for the maritime sector and will be launched immediately after the first phase is completed in 2024.