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Kenya retains world maritime seat at IMO

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online
Kenya's delegation to this year's International Maritime Organization Council meeting pose after retaining the seat in Category C. Maritime PS Nancy Karigithu (centre) led the delegation. To her right is Kenya's High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Rep to IMO Manoah Esipisu. PHOTO | COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya - Kenya will continue playing an indispensable role in global shipping and navigation rules following the latest victory at International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The East Africa nation on Friday retained the seat that it first won in 2001 under category C. Over 174 countries participated in voting in London.

In Africa, Morocco, South Africa, Liberia, and Egypt are the other members of Category C, a privilege that enables those council members to participate in policy formulation.

Kenya holds special interests in maritime transport and navigation as the coastal, port and flag state “whose strategic location along the Eastern Africa coast makes it a most important cog in the wheel of steering global shipping" according to Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu who led the delegation to the polls.

“Our re-election to Council will ensure continued representation of a major geographic area in Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes region consisting of the countries Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda,” she said on Saturday.

Nairobi first joined IMO in 1973 and has since continued to play a pivotal role in maritime shipping due to the strategic coastline of Mombasa.

IMO Council seat is one of the few global organizations that Kenya has consistently served. The victory now means Nairobi will seat in the council for 2020/21.

Foreign Affairs minister Monica Juma tweeted: "Kenya continues to enjoy global confidence in the maritime sphere. We thank all member states for their demonstrated confidence in Kenya."

Kenya's High Commissioner to London Manoah Esipisu said the victory confirms the world's confidence in Nairobi leadership.

“It confirms the world's confidence in our leadership around maritime transport and safety and our commitment to the Blue Economy,” he said.

The IMO is the specialized agency that determines rules on shipping safety and the environment.

With more than 80 percent of global trade running on seas, the IMO's regulatory framework determines how shipping lines and ports operate.

Incidentally, the victory comes at the time Kenya is embroiled in the Indian Ocean maritime dispute with neighbors Somalia.

International Court of Justice is set to start hearing the case from June 2020 after series of postponement. The case almost precipitated to diplomatic fallout between the two nations.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Farmajo however, met in November and agreed to normalize bilateral ties between Nairobi and Mogadishu.