Bandari Maritime Academy CEO Mr. Francis Muraya, Women in the Maritime Sector in East and Southern Africa (WOMESA) Chairperson Ms. Fiona Mbandi, the President of the Association of Maritime Practitioners of Kenya, Captain Suleiman Said, alongside KMA officials, graced this year’s Day of the Seafarer event at Bandari Maritime Academy in Mombasa.

The annual event, celebrated on 25th June, commemorates the role of seafarers and their contribution to the maritime sector.

This year’s theme focused on the conservation & preservation of the sustainability of the ocean, with seafarers being at the core of these efforts.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Francis Muraya said the academy has set a target of training 5,000 seafarers every year to meet the growing demand for seafaring.

“The academy has set a target of training 5,000 seafarers every year building a capital base for this country through foreign missions because employment at sea pays well,” he said.

Ms. Fiona Mbandi commended the country for supporting women in the maritime industry, acknowledging that in 2022, over 2,000 employees were hired on cruise ships, nearly half of whom were women.

She also highlighted Ambassador Ms. Nancy Karigithu as a notable example of women’s inclusion in a historically male-dominated sector and how her candidature for the next secretary general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will position Kenya globally in maritime affairs.

“We are very lucky. This year we have a candidate who has been nominated to become the next secretary general of IMO. Ambassador Ms. Nancy Karigithu is a candidate and if she becomes the secretary general then we will be able to have a seat at the global level,” Ms. Fiona said.

Mr. Mbwana Abdalla from Kenya Coast Blue Economy (KECOBE) further added that the representation of women in the maritime sector is not solely influenced by society but rather by the design of ships.

“It is very tough for women. This stems from the design of the ship, rather than societal norms. The ship’s design is not friendly for women and even the disabled. Societal norms, in fact, do not prevent women from pursuing a career at sea, but rather it is the restrictive design of ships that are not accommodating,” Mr. Abdalla added.

Even as the day serves as a reflection on the invaluable contributions of seafarers to the maritime industry, Captain Suleiman emphasized the importance of prioritizing the development of highly skilled seafarers while acknowledging their crucial role.