Kenyan maritime waters removed from high-risk list, move to boost trade

The Kenya maritime waters within the Indian Ocean have now been re-designated

from the High-Risk Area by the global shipping industry.

The move, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will save Kenya and East Africa millions of dollars in insurance and security expenses.

“The decision by the BMP-5 [Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea] has been communicated to the London-based 174-member International Maritime Organisation, the United Nations agency responsible for improving the safety and security of global shipping,” Foreign Affairs said in a statement dated September 9.

The development followed a heightened campaign by Kenya to end labelling of Kenyan waters as high-risk, which made shipping prohibitively expensive and threatened the nascent blue economy.

Kenyan maritime waters were designated as High-Risk Area in 2009 by BMP-5, which comprise five largest global shipping industry associations — International Association of Dry Cargo Ship Owners, International Association of Independent Tank Owners, International Chamber of Shipping, Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and Baltic and International Maritime Council. This followed increased incidents of piracy in the Indian Ocean, including in Kenyan maritime waters.

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“The consequence of that designation of Kenyan maritime waters as HRA was an increase in maritime insurance premium for cargo destined for the port of Mombasa, as well as increased labour cost for seafarers aboard such ships due to high risk of piracy attacks.

“Cargo ships destined for Mombasa also took longer routes, beyond 300 nautical miles from the Indian Ocean coastline, to avoid encountering pirates, while other cargo ships hired private security aboard their ships for increased protection,” the statement added.

Shipping and Maritime Affairs PS Nancy Karigithu and Kenya’s High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Representative to the IMO Manoah Esipisu led Kenya’s negotiating team over the past 18 months, with assistance from the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee.

The ministry said the removal from the list is as a result of increased surveillance and joint maritime patrols by the Kenya Coast Guard Services and the Kenya Navy within the Kenyan maritime waters.

This resulted in significant reduction in piracy incidents, with no piracy incidents recorded since 2017, the ministry noted.

“Kenya lauds the BMP-5 for their decision and cooperation during the intense engagements, which resulted in re-designation of Kenya maritime waters to reflect improved security. This decision frees Kenya from what had become a major restriction to the shipping industry, it also frees the rest of East Africa, and drastically lowers costs of supplies from all over the world,” it further noted.

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