Kenya has operationalised a modern shipyard facility at the Kenya Navy Mtongwe base in Mombasa, making her the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to have such a facility.
The completion of Kenya Shipyards Limited (KSL) with a slipway shipyard that has the capacity to handle vessels of more than 4,000 tonnes and 150 metres, boosts the East African country to attain its maritime hub status.
The new facility has a long slipway – a platform on which ships are secured and winched out of water into a working area for construction, repair, refitting and maintenance of sea vessels.
The modern shipyard has two ship building hangers, one of 150 metres long and 30 metres high and a smaller one of 120 metres long, 20 metres high and 13 metres wide.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened the facility on Friday as the country eyes the lucrative shipbuilding and repair business.
The navy project in Mtongwe gives Kenya a competitive advantage in shipbuilding and maritime engineering in Eastern and Central Africa with the inauguration of a marine academy in Kisumu helping to boost human resource training for sustainable growth of the industry.
“In the project, Kenya, which owns about 17 military ships, seeks to save $6,800 million per vessel in maintenance fees every 10 years, considering, since independence, all Kenyan ships are serviced and maintained overseas either in Spain or Netherlands. Every ship has a life span of 10-15 years before a full makeover,” reads part of communication from Kenya Defense Forces.
KSL will for the first time in Kenya’s history employ its own certified ship welders, which is part of the Kenyan government’s agenda to create over 10,000 jobs per year in the maritime sector. Currently, the ship welders in Kenya are foreigners.
The KSL is the anchor industry for the blue economy and it will provide civil and modular infrastructure workshops, slipways, jetties, bridges and anything that is required to support the maritime industry.
Kenya has already formed a full department on National Blue Economy, which has indicated to achieve its vision, the blue economy will require specialised vessels, for instance, deep sea fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone where a vast amount of our untapped marine fisheries resources are found.
Securing Kenyan marine assets requires well-equipped vessels and KSL will play a key role in offering technical support.
Ship construction in Kenya is not a new concept considering Kenya built its first vessel, the MV Uhuru II, at Kisumu port about over 70 years ago.
Improving shipping and maritime infrastructure is a key component of Kenya’s economic roadmap by harnessing maritime resources to propelling Kenya’s industrialization agenda under Vision 2030.
The global market for ship construction, estimated at $126 billion in 2020, is currently dominated by South Korea (40 percent), China (25 percent) and Japan (15 percent).
The global maritime trade value is worth $14 trillion of which 40 percent worth $5.6 trillion passes through the East Coast of Africa. This means that Kenya will for the first time have the chance of accessing $5.6 trillion of the trade that plies along the East Coast of Africa by ensuring ships pass through Kenya to undergo repair and maintenance.