KENYA AND THE INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION (IMO)
- Kenya’s strategic geo-location along the East African coast and eminent profile among the community of nations have defined her position and role at IMO. Kenya has continued to be an active member of IMO and has to date ratified a total of 32 Conventions emanating from the Organization. Indeed, Kenya’s willingness and resolve to tackle emerging global and regional challenges relating to shipping has earned the country global respect.
Kenya has taken the lead in supporting and implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), aimed at fostering sustainable use of blue economy domain. In 2018, Kenya hosted the first ever Global Conference on a Sustainable Blue Economy. The Conference brought together 16,320 participants from 184 Countries under the theme ‘Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development’. A total of 7 Heads of States, 84 Ministers, Heads of International Organizations and other high level dignitaries graced the conference. The key areas of focus during the conference and notable commitments included but were not limited to: - smart shipping, sustainable energy, climate action, maritime security, safety and regulatory enforcement employment, job creation and poverty eradication, sustainable fisheries, sustainable use of the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers all of which focused on an all-inclusive blue economy for economic development and poverty eradication where societal groups including women and youth are engaged.
- Climate change remains a key area of concern for the maritime community. Kenya has taken lead towards action against climate change, by among other things, hosting the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) for Africa which is among the five (5) centers under the Global Maritime Network set up to support the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction strategy. The center serves to build capacity for mitigation of the effects of climate change for the shipping industry and promote adoption of energy efficient technologies in the maritime sector.
So far the MTCC Africa has held several capacity building workshops across Africa with the aim of building capacity and raising awareness in Africa on climate change mitigation in the maritime sector. Kenya has also embarked on ambitious projects in line with the proposed project outputs that relate to green shipping and energy efficiency. It is anticipated that the results of these projects will provide lessons not only for Africa but the International Maritime Community in general.
- Maritime security remains a key component for safe maritime transport. Towards this objective, Kenya continues to play a key role in securing the maritime domain within the Western Indian Ocean. As a signatory to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCOC) as well as membership to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, both instruments of the United Nations Security Council, Kenya continues to collaborate within these Regional Security Mechanisms instrumental in addressing the challenges of maritime security.
In compliance with its obligations under the 2009 Djibouti Code of Conduct on the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships and the Jeddah 2017 Amendments (that widened its mandate to other maritime crimes), Kenya has strengthened national structures through legislation to ensure compliance to the requirements for information sharing at both national and regional level for enhanced maritime domain awareness and security.
To meet the needs for increased global awareness and comprehensive approaches on maritime security through maritime domain awareness, Kenya hosted the 21st Plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGCPS) in 2018. Kenya further Co-Chairs with the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) the Regional Capacity Building Working Group (RCBWG).
In 2008 the Government of Kenya also hosted a High-Level International Conference on Piracy, a consultative meeting on Acts of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Vessels. The country thereafter offered its national courts for the prosecution of suspected pirates and as a result of which a total of one hundred and seventy three pirates were convicted to serve their jail terms in Kenyan Prisons.
- Military operations by Kenyan troops in Somalia, especially in and around Kismayu – which was previously the bedrock of Somali piracy - are directly linked to the near-eradication of piracy in the Indian Ocean. This has helped secure maritime routes thus saving ship-operators and governments from the heavy costs related to piracy. The recent establishment of the Kenya Coastguard Agency as a multi-agency organization is expected to improve surveillance and security as well as maritime law enforcement along the 600 km Kenyan coastline and EEZ.
Kenya hosts the Regional Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RMRCC) in Mombasa, covering on behalf of the international maritime community, the maritime search and rescue region of Somali, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania and the Seychelles and providing a very useful point of contact where ships regularly seek advice or assistance when sailing in waters off the coast of Somalia as well as also report security concerns about other ships movements or communications in the area. All these measures have been very useful in the monitoring of piracy and armed robberies in waters off the Coast of Somalia. The Centre is poised to play a bigger role in achieving the new expanded mandate of the Djibouti Code of Conduct.
- In line with the requirements for facilitation of international maritime traffic, Kenya has been a key proponent for the implementation of the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) Convention in the region. To ensure compliance, Kenya has established a Maritime Single Window platform to enhance electronic data interchange and faster cargo clearance.
Kenya has also developed a Port Community Charter to increase efficiency at the Port of Mombasa and reduce the cost of doing business for the realization of the full potential of the Port, which is a gateway to the Eastern and Central African region and beyond. The Charter brings together a multiplicity of statutory bodies and private sector players who are an integral part of trade facilitation and logistics chain within the region.
Improvement in Port infrastructure has also been a key focus for the Republic of Kenya to ensure timely turnaround time for vessels. A new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line has been inaugurated to ensure faster movement of cargo from Mombasa to the hinterland.
- Kenya is also a signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) and is on the IMO White List of countries giving full implementation to the International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping for Seafarers, (STCW 95), as amended. In line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) on quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth and in cognizance of the competency of seafarers, Kenya is geared up to contribute to the global shortage of seafarers.
- The country’s other crucial associations with the IMO include:
- Hosting in Nairobi since 1999 the office of IMO’s Regional Coordinator for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa region and seconding staff to the office. The office serves 21 countries and has been pivotal in the implementation and delivery of technical assistance thereby greatly advancing the ratification and implementation of IMO conventions in the region;
- In May 2007, Kenya successfully hosted the first IMO International Diplomatic Conference in Africa whose outcome was the adoption and signing of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007.
- On 3rd to 5th October 2012, the Government of Kenya hosted the Inaugural Heads of African Maritime Administrations and Ship Registrars’ Conference in Mombasa, under the theme of “Africa in Preparation for a Maritime Strategic Take-off”. The conference brought together maritime authorities in Africa with the aim of deliberating on measures necessary to implement the African Integrated Maritime (AIMS) Strategy, 2050 as envisaged in the African Maritime Transport Charter. That inaugural meeting has since seen the establishment of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA).
- In support of the IMO program for the integration of women in the maritime sector, Kenya continues to raise awareness on the importance of gender equality in the maritime and shipping sector in line with SDG 5. Kenya supports IMO’s agenda on empowering women in the maritime sector by fostering an environment that attracts women to the sector. This has seen the country, produce the 1st female International Transport Federation (ITF) Ship Inspector in Africa. The Government of Kenya has also extended the capacity building by appointment of Kenyan women to high ranking positions in the maritime sector.
The Kenyan Government has further supported regional initiatives towards this goal by hosting the Association for Women in the Maritime Sector for East and Southern Africa (WOMESA) which covers a region of twenty-five countries in the East and Southern African Region. WOMESA’s secretariat is hosted at the Kenya Maritime Authority offices in Mombasa.