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Kenya and Korea to sign MOU on Maritime opportunities


By Benard Mulwa

The government through the State Department for Shipping and maritime affairs is set to sign an MOU with Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Korea Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology on employment of Kenyan seafarers.

This comes even as the Principal Secretary Hon. Geoffrey Kaituko led a team of senior officers from the State Department, the Oceans and Blue Economy Office in the Executive Office of the President, the CEO and other senior officers of the Bandari Maritime Academy and members of the Transport & Infrastructure Committee of the National Assembly on a visit to South Korea on a number of key institutions in the maritime industry.

The visit was an opportunity for the Kenyan delegation to communicate the Government of Kenya’s agenda for building a Trusted Kenyan Seafarer Brand that would attract employment of Kenyan Seafarers in shipping companies globally.

The delegation was further required to engage the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, South Korea on the status of a draft MOU on mutual recognition of Certificates of Competence (COC) submitted to the Ministry in January,2024.

“Additionally, Kenya intended to develop cooperation frameworks/agreements between the Korean Maritime and Oceans University and relevant Kenyan Maritime Education and Training (MET) Institutions with the aim of transferring knowledge and technology in training of Kenyan Seafarers,” the PS said.

The highlight of the visit was the execution of a finalized MOU between with the Korea Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology (KIMFT) and the Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA).

During the visit at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the delegation met the Vice Minister of the Ministry, Mr. Song Myung-dal.  The leaders agreed to fast track a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on mutual recognition of Certificates of Comptency(COC) that will open up opportunities for Kenyan seafarers to secure employment of 1000 ratings and officers on board Korean ships annually. The MOU is in the final stages of approval and will be signed by the respective Cabinet Secretaries/Ministers during the Korea-Africa Summit in June, 2024.

The Delegation also met the Korea Ship Owners Association (KSA) led by the Vice Chairman ,Mr. Yang,Chang Ho. The Vice Chairman noted that KSA owns a fleet of over 1600 commercial ships with a workforce of 11,000 seafarers. The workforce is projected to increase to 14,700 in the year 2030.

The supply of this workforce is sourced from Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. KSA intends to diversify their workforce and their focus is in Africa more particularly, Kenya, “The Kenyan Sea farer brand is high since they are physically fit, can speak fluent English and they are disciplined, therefore, in order for Kenya to successfully produce enough seafarers for the Korean Market, there is need to increase its Maritime Training Institutes to enable Kenya to meet the seafarer demand,” the PS told journalist.

The meeting agreed that the Kenyan Government will identify a manning agent to handle seafarers’ welfare in Korean Ships. The agent will be the Kenyan maritime liaison officer and will work closely with the Korean Government to handle any issues arising on board ships.

The highlight of the visit was the signing of an MOU between the Korea Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology and the Bandari Maritime Academy where I witnessed. The main area of cooperation in the MOU is cooperation by the two Institutions in development of training standards, curricula development and implementation, as well as training of trainers and exchange of faculty.

“Given the opportunities in the maritime sectors, there is need to increase the number of qualified seafarers through training and certification and therefore we urge the National Assembly to increase financing for maritime education and training centres”, the PS said adding that the government further urge the Kenya youth to embrace the maritime sector and take advantage of the various maritime opportunities available in Kenya and globally.

Korea currently has signed MOUs with 42 countries, while the MOU signing is essential for Kenyan seafarers to board Korean-flagged ships.

his statement reads in part, “Kenya is implementing maritime education and training following the Safety, Training Certification & Watch keeping requirements by IMO  Kenya is an IMO White List country. “Kenya has signed MOUs with Panama, Liberia, Palau, and Jamaica.”

Several Korean shipping companies have demonstrated interest in hiring Kenyan seafarers, but an existing MOU on mutual recognition of certificates between the two countries is a prerequisite.

According to confidential documents seen by journalists, to date, 25 Kenyan maritime university students have completed onboard training at Korean shipping companies.

Some Korean shipping companies are considering employing Kenyan students who completed onboard training.

The support of the Korean government is required to expand the employment of Kenyan seafarers to Korean shipping companies.

Visits by officials, students, and trainers during which presentations on strategic matters that are of mutual interest of the Parties may take place. Exchanges of trainees and researchers for participation are in talks, conferences, workshops, and investigations.

Cooperation in promoting research and development and innovation projects. Exchange of publications, educational materials, and information, Participation of trainees in activities at sea for the purposes of practice and training.

Cooperation in development of training standards, curricula development and implementation, as well as training of trainers and exchange of faculty.

Development of capacity of instructors and assessors, sharing of results, conclusions, best practices, lessons learned and all others as decided in mutual discussion.

The Principal Secretary witnessed the signing of an MOU between KIMFT and BMA on the following areas of cooperation: As of October 2023, the Korea Ship-owners Association (KSA) sought member shipping companies’ opinions on whether they intend to employ about 100 Kenyan-rating seafarers, KSA and KMOU are preparing the 4th – and 5th-class seafarers’ fostering program to serve on Korean coastal ships and Support from the Korean government is required to enable Kenyan students to participate in these programs.

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