More than a decade ago, Kenya was placed on the list of piracy risk countries after several cases of cargo ships being hijacked by Somali pirates. Emblematic of this period is the hijacking of the American Maersk Alabama by four Somali pirates, which went down in history as the first to damage an American cargo ship in two hundred years.
The choice of the IMO (International Maritime Organization), the UN authority responsible for the safety of the world’s public and commercial maritime transport, follows the increased security of Kenya’s coastline with the absence of piracy attacks for more than four years. After being placed on the list of countries at risk, Kenya had strengthened the presence of coast guard and navy units along the country’s coastline; these choices are in line with the BPM5, the IMO protocol containing guidelines for countering piracy.
The certification of safe waters is very good news for Kenya, not only strictly on the security side but also on the economic side. In this decade, insurance for vessels transiting the Kenyan sea was sky high, producing a strong disincentive in the blue economy. The opening of the port of Lamu just three months ago seems even more important in this respect.
This appears to be good news not only for Kenya but also for all those countries that rely on the country for maritime imports and exports: among them Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan that rely on the port of Mombasa for their trade.