Mitchel Foucault, a French philosopher defines economy as managing people and resources so as to prosper. In essence it is the rearranging of people and resources so as to avoid waste and to achieve their economic use. The Blue Economy offers infinite possibilities with a finite space.
Kenya hosted the First Blue Economy Conference in Africa for member states to discuss the priority of establishing a sustainable blue economy that would also feed into achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. However globally, the conversation about Blue economy is not new and there are countries that have gone ahead in establishing it as a significant diversifier of their economies.
The Blue Economy discourse first emerged in 2010 with the sole aim of saving the Oceans, and also realizing the economic opportunities that the Oceans, the coasts have offer. The Blue Economy concept is traced to the Small Island Development States (SIDS) process spearheaded by the Global Oceans Commission to help the SIDS states address their sustainable development challenges.
According to Young Rae Choi, who has published a paper on Blue Economy titled, “The Blue Economy as governmentality and the making of new spatial rationalities, remarks about the Blue Economy asserting that it will create wealth and bring environmental possibilities. A trailblazer in the Blue Economy discourse is China. China’s waters include Internal Waters, Territorial Seas, and Exclusive Economic Zones. All these represent about 6467 billion of Chinese currency injected into their economy. You will be amazed that this represents 9.6% of the National Gross Domestic Product. However this figure is expected to shoot up to about 15% by 2030.
The Agency in charge of Oceans in China has categorized sectors of the Blue Economy that contributes to the overall GDP. 35% of its GDP comes from Coastal Tourism, 22% from Transport and Logistics, 17% from Fisheries and 8% from engineering and construction. These are the sustainable industries which the Government of China has put a lot of effort in. The Chinese government is also incentivizing the sector by creating and promoting various forms of special funds and insurance to help with the risk in the emerging ocean industries. China has also extensively built up the systems around the governing of the Seas. The governing system which is the law articulates that all sovereign sea belongs to the state and those that want to use the sea space must acquire rights from the government, and also pay fees. China also has an existing National Marine Economy Development Plan which embeds marine economy in national development planning. This has made the sovereign sea space to be visible and something that can be relied to as an area that can contribute to the growth of the economy.
Sub Saharan Africa has fared quite well when it comes to international cooperation and coastal welfare, however faces challenges in the development of the blue economy and combatting illicit trade which happen along the seas. In the Eastern Coast, According to the Stable Seas Project by the One Earth Organization, Somalia exclusive economic zone is about 825,052 square kilometers in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. This is the 5th largest exclusive economic zone in Africa. However, to maximize its leverage on the Blue economy for inclusive and Sustainable growth will require that Somalia pulls up its socks on Maritime Enforcement.
Across the nine issues covered by the Stable Seas Maritime Index, Somalia scores 19 in Maritime Enforcement, which is below the regional average of 50. Luckily the Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi provided an opportunity for countries to sign Maritime Security pacts. Countries like Kenya signed a deal with six countries that border the Indian Ocean to share intelligence in fighting illegal trade. France and Kenya have signed two regional maritime security agreements of which Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles are signatories. Somalia and Tanzania have agreed to the deal but are yet to sign the security pact. The agreements are part of the MASE program conjointly implemented by IOC, IGAD, COMESA and EAC with funding from the European Union. The only way Somalia can improve on this Maritime Enforcement Score is to sign the Security Pact in order to improve its maritime security. Somalia still scores the highest in Piracy which of course is as a result of the International Campaign against Piracy along the Somali Coast.
Somalia’s maritime space is larger than the maritime spaces claimed by Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Kenya. Somalia’s waters regardless of the disputed areas with Kenya and also Djibouti, is rich in fisheries. With better fisheries management, the maritime space could be a big source of revenue and food security. For instance, the Food and Agricultural Organization estimated that in 2011, African fisheries generated a tune of 24 billion dollars. Somalia has the probability of reaping a bigger share of revenue if they build up the management of their fishing industry.
The Federal government of Somalia has limited Maritime Security Capabilities including trained personnel and modern vessels. It will be vital for Somalia to build the necessary tools, training and institutions necessary for providing effective maritime governance in the Somali region. With these steps, Somalia stands to benefit with the Blue Economy.
Doing a comparative between Somalia and Kenya, Kenya has less square kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zones of about 116,942 square Kilometers of the Indian Ocean. This puts Kenya as the 22nd largest Exclusive Economic Zone. When it comes to Maritime Enforcement, Kenya is rated to be above average. This has been boosted further, following the launch of the Kenya Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Act 2018 which established the Kenya Coast Guard articulates the Service shall be responsible for enforcing maritime security and Safety, Pollution Control and sanitation, controlling illegal fishing and prosecuting persons who are offenders. The only challenge Kenya happens to face is illicit trade, according to the Stable Seas Project, Kenya scores are very low. Illicit trade happens to take place at the ports where drugs are smuggled and also illegal wildlife products. However, this could potentially be minimized with the establishment of the Kenya Coast Guard Service.
In 2017, Kenya first established the Blue Economy Implementation Committee to coordinate and oversee the implementation of the programme. In Fisheries Management, Kenya enacted the Fisheries Management and Development Act 2016 which has since seen the establishment of three authorities mainly Kenya Fisheries Advisory Council, Kenya Fisheries Service and Fish Market Authority, which although they are yet to begin their operations. Kenya has also purchased a deep sea research vessel to enhance the capacity on marine fisheries research. To spur growth of the blue economy, the Kenya government has proposed a 150 percent deduction allowance for capital expenditures in the sector, exempt from VAT packaging materials and other inputs intended to support marine fisheries and fish processing, and reducing port charges for fisheries vessels.
In Conclusion for East Coast Countries to really exploit and develop their blue economy, they will have to overcome global challenges such as inadequate human and technical capacities, financial constraints particularly in shipping and transport that are capital intensive. In addition, coastal environmental pollution from land based and marine activities, Unsustainable fishing practices and habitat destruction from coastal development and extractive industries. There will also be the need to quantify the opportunities of the blue economy and maximize returns from investments in the sector. It will also make it easier to explore the potential for public-private partnerships.
 Winder, G. M., & Le Heron, R. (2017). Assembling a Blue Economy moment? Geographic engagement with globalizing biological-economic relations in multi-use marine environments. Dialogues in Human Geography, 7(1), 3-26.
 Choi, Y. R. (2017). The Blue Economy as governmentality and the making of new spatial rationalities. Dialogues in Human Geography, 7(1), 37-41.