By Andrew Mwangura
The government of Kenya has come up with Ksh25 billion plan to transform Bandari Maritime Academy into a centre of excellence in maritime training in the region in the next 10 years.
In 2022, Kenya came up with a US$25 million Kenya Blue Economy Skills Training project.
The seven-year project is funded by Global Affairs Canada to support the government of Kenya in achieving its goals for an enhanced Blue Economy.
The project is being implemented by Colleges and Institutions Canada (CICAN) in partnership with the Kenya ministry of Education, through the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training and the State Department for Post-Training and Skills Development in collaboration with other key ministries and government agenicies, the private sector and civil society.
The State Department for the Blue Economy and Fisheries is among the collaborating MDAs.
Maritime training has envolved over the centuries from an apprentice-type education into a formal course of study.
From the early days, hands-on experience has proven invaluable to future seafarers where one would learn by practicing the procedures and using the tools of the trade.
There is a need for the government of Kenya to establish a Maritime Training Scheme. The training scheme will be linked to Kenya tonnage tax.
The training scheme and the tonnage tax will increase the number of cadets and improve their employment opportunities after gaining the First Officer of Watch Certificate.
The goverment’s principal objective in supporting merchant navy training is to facilitate an adequate support of Kenya maritime experts to meet the nation’s economic and strategic requirements.
The proposed maritime training scheme will be government funded and administered by administration board on behalf of Kenya Maritme Authority (KMA).
The administration board will not be a policy making body; rather it will have an executive role in ensuring that the scheme is operated effectively.
The administration board will approve the payment of public funding to approved training providers and sponsoring companies to support the costs of approved training.
The administration board will support training courses approved by the Merchant Navy Training Board for the Merchant Navy Officers, Officers Cadets and ratings.
The funding may also be available for unemployed trainees undertaking junior officer training, ratings training (shore-based) and ratings to officers convertion training.
Maritime Education and Training is currently offered at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technical, Technical University of Mombasa and at the Bandari Maritime Academy.
Basic safety training courses are offered at the Indian Ocean Maritime Training Centre in Watamu, while Hospitality and Technical courses are offered at Coast Institute of Technology in Voi, Kenya National Coast Polytecnic and in all accredited TVETs in Mombasa.
There is a need for the TVETs to offer Marine Catering course, Efficient Deck Hand course as well as specialst courses in order that the seafarers can get employment on speciliased ships like Gas Carriers, off-shore service ships and mega ships.
The job of seafarer is more than driving the ship from port to port. Cargo care at sea is a science by itself.
Safe cargo carrying is what makes money for the ship owner and the crew get paid.
_Andrew Mwangura is a public Intellectual at the Nautical Advisory Services.