Lessons in Logistics from Amina Mohamed Loss

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February 6, 2017

Amb. Amina Mohamed’s loss in her bid for the African Union Commission chairperson’s seat has come as a shocker to many observers.

The loss was considered not only as a loss to the charming Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Foreign Affairs but to the incumbent Kenya Government in particular.

Kenya’s intention to front Amina Mohamed as the candidate was announced by none other than the Head of State, President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Youth Summit at State House in October, last year, “I see Amina is doing well and this looks like an Amina thing,” the President remarked exuberantly.

Amina’s intelligence, eloquence and experience coupled with her charming looks set her as a frontrunner to nab the position. Going in to the elections, Kenya was certain to grab this position.

But despite all her credentials, Amina was not able to ward off competition in a bruising electoral contest on 30 January, 2017 that went to seven rounds.

When the dust settled, it was announced that Chad’s Moussa Faki would become the next Chairperson of the Commission.

Faki is the Chadian Minister for Foreign affairs since 2008. He has also served as the Prime Minister of the central African nation.

Few people expected this result. Amina Mohamed herself attributes the loss to “divisions along language lines – languages that are not even ours.”

Cs Amina

CS Amina Mohamed. She is eloquent and experienced in diplomacy circles. [Image: World Trade Organisation]


The 55 year-old Kakamega-born mother of two is a career civil servant. She has been in the corridors of Government for close to three decades.

She has risen through the ranks from a legal officer at the Ministry of Local Government at one point, to serving as the Legal Advisor to Kenya’s mission at the United Nations in Geneva.

The suave diplomat has spearheaded Kenya’s efforts in attracting global tourism and has managed the logistics of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi that was attended by then President of the USA, Barack Obama.

She was also at the forefront of the realisation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) event in Nairobi.

With all these to her name, just what went wrong in the election? What could have led to this loss?

The loss was celebrated by some Kenyans. This is a pointer to the deep divisions existing in the country.

Those who do not agree with the incumbent felt that she was being pushed with the sole agenda of disengaging Kenya from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Many are of the opinion that the benefit of Amina’s candidature was not for Kenyans in general but for a particular set of people.

This is evidenced by the concerted effort in “shuttle diplomacy” which saw top Government officials visit all but 2 of the 53 African Union member states to lobby for CS Amina.

Or could it be that Kenya is an international bully that has built a poor relationship with other nations because of her presumptive position of Big Brother?  Despite Kenya’s position  as an economic hub, there was stiff competition from other nations in the final round that saw 38 nations offering their vote to Chad while 15 abstained.

The politics of it aside, the loss was a lesson in the emerging trends, competencies, and best practices for organisations that seek the best logistics services providers and to move assets and information efficiently through the supply chain.

In retrospect, all the money spent in the “travel diplomacy” was an unnecessary expense. Perhaps, if Kenya had started by lobbying her closest neighbours for the vote we may just have nabbed the seat!


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