Kenya’s Ambassador and Special Envoy for maritime Affairs Ambassador Nancy Karigithu is keeping her fingers crossed as she hopes for victory as Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation.
If and when she wins, Ambassador Karigithu will become the first African and the first woman secretary general in IMO’s seventy year history.
Ambassador Nancy Karigithu is among the seven candidates who have flagged her interest for the secretary-general’s position.
The winner will succeed the incumbent, South Korea’s Kitack Lim.
Among her notable achievements, Karigithu was the first Director General of Kenya’s Maritime Authority and also served as Chairperson of the IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee, one of the five Committees through which the Organisation deliver it’s global mandate .
Her interest in a maritime career began aged five years old when a visiting overseas teacher taught her to make paper boats and brought cowrie shells, telling young Nancy that if she put one to her ear, she would hear the sound of the sea. She was brought up 750km from the sea and was fascinated by the ocean when she saw it for the first time when she visited Mombasa as a teenager.
The other candidates are: Bangladesh (Moin Uddin Ahmed), China (Zhang Xiajojie), Dominica (Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry), Finland (Minna Kivimäki), Kenya (Nancy Karigithu), Panama (Arsenio Dominguez) and Türkiye (Suat Hayri Aka) all put forward their nominations for the position, which for the first time includes not one, but three women.
The IMO must take critical decisions over the next four years, amid criticism that the pace of decarbonisation regulations will compromise the United Nations agency’s role as an international regulator.
The next Secretary-General will not only set the tone at the secretariat, but as the public face of the IMO, the personality must bridge divisions and steer a course that will keep the IMO relevant and respected.
As most Secretary-Generals are re-elected for a second term, the successful candidate will take the IMO through key climate change regulations in shipping and other challenges, such as autonomous shipping, a looming seafarer shortfall, as well as digitalisation and other internal reorganisations.
Last time the Council elected the Secretary-General, there were multiple rounds of voting before the eventual winner emerged.