Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to enable successful needy and qualified Kenyan seafarers to access loans to cover ship embarkation costs and access jobs in the international maritime fleet as well as maritime education and training opportunities. The deal was signed early this week at Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA).
Former president Uhuru Kenyatta early this year asked the National Treasury and the Blue Economy Committee to implement bold measures that would spur economic growth and create jobs for the youth. Uhuru called for the setting up of a comprehensive seafarers training programme for 4,000 qualified seafarers.
Kenya has in recent years embarked on training the seafarers after the Bandari College was re-named Bandari Maritime Academy and given autonomy from Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). BMA has also signed a deal with the Higher Education and Loans Board (HELB) that opened the doors for professionals seeking careers in the maritime industry.
The industry is currently struggling with a shortage of personnel due to the prohibitive costs of training abroad, which has made many students shun careers in the industry.
Past attempts to get the country get involved in international shipping have faced many insurmountable hurdles. Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) partnered with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) of Italy in a deal that has offered Kenyan seafarers an opportunity to work on-board its vessels
According to the outgoing transport Cabinet Secretary Mr. James Macharia, the KNSL deal with MSC is expected to create upward of ten thousand jobs in the medium term, as well as increase the contribution of the maritime sector to the national economy by making imports cheaper and exports more competitive.
The estimated transportation charges paid out to shipping lines calling at Mombasa port is about Sh 305 billion annually.
“It is estimated that government cargoes cost an average of 14 billion in freight per year, while local destination charges comprise of another Sh 34 billion shillings. With local shipping capacity and the application of “Buy Kenya, Build Kenya” policies, the amount of 14 billion can be retained in Kenya,” Macharia said.
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