Kenya is pulling out all the stops to retain its seat at the category C of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council.
The country says it deserves to be re-elected as it plays an important role in the sector, with its ports serving about 300 million users from across the African continent.
On Friday, Kenya’s High Commissioner in London, Manoah Esipisu, Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu and the Kenya Maritime Authority Director-General, Major (Rtd) George Nyamoko Okong’o, led a Kenyan delegation in a cocktail reception at IMO headquarters in London to woo members to support the country’s re-election bid for 2020-2021.
Dr Karigithu said re-election will enable Kenya make a greater contribution on maritime issues considering its position and the number of clients being served by Kenyan ports.
Category C so far has 28 candidates for 20 slots, with new entrants being Antigua and Barbuda, Poland, Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. This year, Category C has turned out to be very competitive and many of the contesting countries are sparing no resources to secure a seat at the table.
While addressing the delegates, Dr Karigithu affirmed Kenya’s commitment to work with IMO and other maritime players in facilitation of safe, secure and efficient international shipping in the seaboard of East Africa.
“We have a long traditional seafaring spanning hundreds of years. We host major maritime trading and tanker routes between Europe, the Far East and the Americas and we are an important gateway serving a combined population of over 300 million people who rely on our international ports,” she said.
Kenya, she added, is aware of the huge role played by the maritime sector in the social economic fabric of the society, not just in East Africa but in the entire global maritime community.
"Kenya having served in the Council in the past Biennium and for having been given the opportunity to actively participate in a wide range of IMO issues, it has greatly contributed in improving marine issues and more so encouraging more women to participate in marine issues," she noted.
Mr Okongo said Kenya's desire to continue serving the international maritime community in the Council under Category 'C' will ensure the country achieve its blue economy agenda. "Kenya is positioning itself in implementing a number of blue economy projects in the near future and to achieve that, it needs to have key stakeholders on board and we are sure in the assembly we shall have support of the member states and get re-elected," he said.
Kenya became a member of the IMO in 1973 and was first elected to the Council under Category "C" in 2001 and has been re-elected in subsequent elections to date.
The country has special interests in shipping and maritime transport and navigation as a coastal, port and flag state and whose strategic location along the Eastern Africa coast ensures that the country continues to be an important cog in the wheel steering global shipping.
Kenya's re-election therefore, will ensure continued representation of a major geographic region spanning the Western Indian Ocean, East Africa and the African Great Lakes region consisting developing countries such as Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and the Island nations of Seychelles and the Comoros.
There are number of advantages being in the governing council as it’s the IMO which sets global standards for maritime safety and marine environmental protection. Thus, it is paramount to be elected for the Council which functions as the IMO's governing board and decides on the IMO strategy and budget among other things.
Dr. Karigithu said Kenya has earned its stripes in blue economy matters globally having successfully hosted the landmark marine conference under the theme ‘the blue economy and the 2030 agenda of the sustainable development’ in November last year.
The Nairobi conference, she said delivered a total of 191 commitments categorised into ten thematic areas. These are plastics and wastes management, smart shipping, port improvement and the global community marine and water resources protection, bio-diversity and climate change. Others are technical assistance and capacity building, fisheries development and inclusivity,
“Some of the key messages from the conference included the importance of the promotion of action oriented global strategies that place people and the blue economy resources at the centre of sustainable development as a contribution into the realization of the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development,” the PS said.
Kenya, she added continues to partner with IMO in various programmes including in regional presence office for Eastern and Southern Africa which it has been active for coordination and delivery of the IMO programmes in the region.