Kenya now has a merchant navy association. Launched last weekend, the Association of Maritime Practitioners Kenya (AMPK) will be the official professional body for maritime professionals in the country. The Maritime industry is a vast sector comprising of 87 categories of professional practices, which AMPK seeks to represent.
Since the creation of the Presidential Blue Economy Taskforce in 2017, Kenya has accelerated its investments in sustainable utilization of ocean resources. Part of this include concerted efforts to train a new generation of maritime professionals ranging from merchant navy officers to marine researchers.
It is for this reason that the government, through Legal Notice No. 233 of 28 November 2018, transformed Bandari College into Bandari Maritime Academy. The aim is to make it a premier regional maritime training facility responsive to the fast-changing shipping industry.
Over the years, lack of a maritime academy in Kenya has led to a shortage of merchant mariners, as the option of getting the training abroad was accessible to few.
Thus, the launch of AMPK targets to solidify this progress in maritime education, by ensuring that the trained professionals are continuously engaging and exchanging information for the growth of Kenya’s maritime industry.
The idea of forming a Kenyan chapter of Mariners’ association was first mooted in the early 1990s.However, only the Association of Marine Pilots was able to take off, currently being led by Capt. Alli Abdille.
Speaking at the launch of the AMPK, which will now broadly cover other maritime professionals, Capt. Abdille said the two Associations would pursue a common strategic interest in development of the maritime industry.
Gen. (Rtd) Samson Mwathethe, the Chairperson Blue Economy Implementation Committee in the Office of the President, who presided over the launch of AMPK, re-emphasized the role of the blue economy as a priority to national transformation.
This is already anchored in the Third Medium Plan of Kenya’s Vision 2030, which lists blue economy as an area of government focus in 2018-2022. National Skills and development programme, the framework under which Bandari Maritime academy falls in, is also identified as a national priority.
Essentially, the backbone to support the growth of blue economy already exists and the launch of AMPK is an upstream effort to catalyze this development.
Also present during the launch was Dr. Nancy Karigithu, the Permanent Secretary for Shipping and Maritime. She highlighted the launch of AMPK timely as the government has embarked on training fisher folk communities on sea safety.
Recently, KMA trained over 300 coxswains in Lamu County and issued them with updated certificates on maritime safety.
“We expect that these 300 coxswains certified today shall lead by example by embracing a culture of safety and become ambassadors of change towards safer water transport services,” said KMA’s Board Chairperson Geoffrey Mwango, at the completion of the training last month.