A Kenyan marine expert, Nancy Karigithu, is the only African candidate vying for the post of secretary-general of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in a seven candidates list published by a specialised UN Agency that regulates shipping last week.
Ms Karigithu, who has been endorsed by the African Union (AU) for the position, seeks to replace outgoing secretary-general Kitack Lim of the Republic of South Korea, whose term expires by end of this year.
Africa has not yet had the opportunity to occupy the post of IMO secretary-general since its establishment in 1958.
According to a press release issued by the UN following the March 31 deadline, seven IMO member states have each nominated a candidate including one European.
“The nominations received by the deadline set for receipt of nominations are Mr Moin Uddin Ahmed (Bangladesh), Mr Suat Hayri Aka (Turkey), Mr Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco (Panama), Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry (Dominica), Mrs Nancy Karigithu (Kenya), Ms Minna Kivimäki (Finland) and Mr Zhang Xiaojie (China),” read IMO statement.
The IMO Council at its 128th session held in December 2022 approved the procedures for holding the election of its secretary-general at the next session which will be held on July 18 at its headquarters.
The elected secretary-general will take office on January 1, 2024.
Kenya secured the endorsement of the AU for Ms Karigithu during a high-level coordination meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, which placed Kenya’s leading maritime expert in a strong position.
If elected, Ms Karigithu will be the first African and first woman to hold the position in the international organisation dedicated to safety, security and environmental protection in the maritime industry.