KENYA – The ambitious project to construct a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) compliant tuna fish hub at the Liwatoni Fish Processing Plant in Mombasa is making significant progress close to being completed.

Managed by the State Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and the Blue Economy through the Kenya Fishing Industries Corporation (KFIC), the US$40.2 million project is divided into two phases.

Phase one, with an estimated cost of approximately US$10.05 million, is well underway and includes a fresh and frozen processing plant, a cannery, and extensive cold storage facilities.

According to the KFIC Acting CEO, Dr Mikah Nyaberi, this phase is set to be completed by December 30, 2023, and has already seen a disbursement of over US$8.04 million by the government to the project contractor.

Moreover, former President Uhuru Kenyatta has demonstrated strong support for the project, both financially and verbally, injecting more than US$4.69  million in addition to the US$3.35 million that has already been paid to the contractor.

The second phase, estimated to cost US$30.15 million, is set to be funded through a combination of Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) models.

This phase aims to transform Liwatoni into a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and will comprise various elements, including a circular road, jetty repair, a fish meal and oil processing plant, an ice-making facility with a 200 metric ton capacity.

It will also comprise a fish market and auction centre, a fishing gear repair facility, a fuel bunkering facility, a wastewater treatment plant, a solar water desalination plant, solar power generation fixtures, jetty expansion, and auxiliary plants.

Dr Nyaberi envisioned that the project would have a significant socio-economic impact, providing around 2,500 direct jobs and generating an estimated annual revenue of US$100.5 million when fully operational.

According to Dr. Nyaberi, these services have generated more than  US$134,000 in revenue over the last two years.

“As more vessels are expected to arrive, particularly once foreign fishing vessels are licensed, KFIC is poised to significantly contribute to the country’s economy through increased revenue,” he said.

“The Liwatoni Fish Processing Plant is set to provide value addition through the processing of tuna and other species, creating new economic opportunities in the region.”

The project which was launched in 2018 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta but has been riddled with scandals forcing its suspension by the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission.

According to Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs CS Salim Mvurya, financial challenges and a change in implementation of the project with a change in the regime also contributed to the delay in completion of the project.