Karigithu: I'm safe pair of hands at Kenya maritime organisation

Dr Nancy Karigithu. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Presidential Advisor and Special Envoy for Maritime and Blue Economy Dr Nancy Karigithu is undoubtedly a professional in the maritime industry with a career spanning over 38 years.

She has thrown her hat in the ring in the race to clinch the plum position of Secretary General of the London-based International Maritime Organisation (IMO) after she was endorsed by President William Ruto.

Karigithu who is the founding director general of the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), and immediate former principal secretary for Shipping and Maritime Affairs, faces six other candidates in the July 18 poll to succeed Mr Kitack Lim of South Korea.

Her challangers are: Moin Uddin Ahmed of Bangladesh, Suat Aka (Turkiye), Mr Arsenio Velasco (Panama), Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry (Dominica) Minna Kivimaki (Finland) and Zhang Xiaojie of China.

Karigithu who is also Africa's candidate talks to Shipping and Logistics writer Patrick Beja about her campaign agenda.

As a candidate, highlight the key issues in your campaign agenda?

My campaign strategy is centred around reinvigorating IMO. I will focus on the following five key pillars:

Restoration of multilateralism and rule-based system in IMO meetings.

Continued modernisation of the IMO Secretariat to keep up with the fast-changing methods of doing business, and streamlining the organization's activities with the United Nations Secretariat in New York.

Effective and realistic decarbonization of the maritime shipping sector.

Gender-mainstreaming of the maritime industry.

Transparency in the conduct of IMO business.

Where do you want to take IMO in the coming years?

I envision an inspirational and forward-looking future for the IMO, where the organization becomes a beacon of progress, innovation, and sustainability in the maritime sector.

By focusing on these five key pillars, I believe I can lead the IMO into a new era, ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

What can you say about the support you have received from government?

The IMO is an inter-governmental organization, which means that the members are responsible for nominating the candidates for the positions as they fall vacant.

My candidature therefore could not be credible or valid without the direct nomination of the Kenya Government. The government then went ahead to get the endorsement of my candidature from the African Union so that now the continent solidly stands behind my candidature.

Please comment on your career path focusing on key achievements in the maritime industry.

I have personal experience in and a deep understanding of contemporary issues facing Kenya's, regional and the international maritime sector.

I hold a Master's Degree in International Maritime Law from IMO's International Maritime Law Institute based in Malta, with a long-standing association with the maritime industry, the evidence of my service being in the form of the recognitions and awards that I have received in various types over the years. My wide experience covers the private sector, government and at the IMO - first as a consultant then as a delegate. .

I hold tested and proven leadership capabilities both nationally, in the region as well as internationally, having started my career at the lowest echelons of the public sector and rising to head the policy and regulatory organs in Government.

I was recently appointed the co-chair of the Africa-Europe Foundation Strategic Group on Ocean Governance.

My candidature is driven by my passion and desire to take IMO to the next level, especially at this time when multilateralism is at a crossroads.

Being a Kenyan candidate, what can you say about this race?

Being a Kenyan candidate comes with unique qualities as explained below.

Kenya has long been known for her strong record on multi-literalism and South-South Tri-angular Cooperation, evidenced most recently in the co-hostship with Portugal, of the second United Nations Oceans Conference in 2022, as well as organizing the 1st ever Global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in November 2018.

It will also be recalled that during the height of piracy in waters off the coast of Somalia, Kenya became the first country to sign a transfer agreement - enabling the international navies patrolling the Indian Ocean to land suspected pirates, lending the country's judicial and prison systems for the trial and incarceration, thus making Kenya a "trusted pair of hands."

Kenya has also had a long-standing reputation in diplomacy for being a "safe pair of hands" at both the Africa Union and within the United Nations - this is the experience I will be bringing into the IMO leadership.

As a seasoned maritime practitioner with vast experience from the global south, I believe I will "build the bridge" between the North and South, especially on contemporary global issues that currently divide IMO member states.

A last word...

I am confident that I am eminently qualified to lead the organization, being a mature, experienced maritime sector professional.

Having grown through the ranks from national administration, within a regional context and at the global level, I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve the world through the maritime safety, security and environmental protection experience I have gained from the grassroots to the top of the pyramid, in policy, operational and legislative development of the industry at national, regional and international levels.