Mombasa Shipyard to accelerate Kenya’s industrial and maritime goals

Kenya’s Mombasa Shipyard is set to accelerate the country’s industrial and maritime goals. The shipyard represents the kind of transformational projects that will enable Kenya attain her ambition to be an industrial economy. It is the kind of large-scale investment in infrastructure required to deliver the next wave of economic growth and transformation.

Launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in December last year, the new shipyard has a capacity to handle 4,000-tonne vessels and will offer employment to over 10,000 Kenyans. Critically, the project will advance the country’s industrial and maritime agenda. By describing it as the “bedrock of the Blue Economy” the President underlined its significance to the country’s growing maritime sector currently valued at over Ksh 400 billion, roughly 4 per cent of GDP.

Vision 2030 national industrialization strategy

The project is also a major boost for the Vision 2030 national industrialization strategy. The transformative impact of the shipyard going forward will be felt in five major ways. The new shipyard will integrate into sea mining and fishing activities; construction of offshore infrastructure and aquaculture facilities.

As a shipbuilding and maintenance hub, the Mtongwe shipyard will not only design and build new vessels but also undertake specialized maritime services like vessel repairs and re-fitting. In addition, skills transfer through maritime training programs will enable the country to rapidly transition into the Blue Economy.

Already, many young Kenyans have undergone training in specialized welding and other high-value activities. For the Blue Economy to flourish, Kenya needs to develop technical expertise in maritime engineering.

In advanced economies like the US, shipyards serve three intertwined purposes – commercial, security and scientific. Private shippers use the facility to service their vessels thus promoting trade. Since it is based at the Kenya Navy Base at Mtongwe, the Mombasa shipyard serves a crucial naval function besides potentially supporting future ocean-based science research.

The multi-agency approach behind the shipyard involving among others, Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Coast Guard Service, Kenya Railways and National Youth Service, is a classic example of how various State agencies can work seamlessly in delivering critical national infrastructure in a timely, cost-effective and transparent manner.

The Kenya Shipyards Limited (KSL) established through an Executive Order in 2018 will play a facilitative role in promoting trade, industry and defence within the country’s maritime domain. The Eastern Africa coastline has only four shipyards located in Egypt, Djibouti and South Africa. Through KSL, Kenya is positioned to emerge as the new ship-building hub in Africa serving public and private, domestic and regional clients.

The Mombasa shipyard will transform the coastal economy by opening up the region to new investments. Key sub-sectors of the Blue Economy like fisheries which employ many locals will benefit. Private shipyards charge millions of shillings for repair of vessels. The State facility at Mtongwe will help bring down the cost of maintenance and encourage more local entrepreneurs to venture into the fisheries industry.


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