Kenya and other African countries have been urged to ensure all shipping lines that ply their waters are registered with the industry regulator to boost revenue collection.
The call was made during a forum held by the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) in Mombasa that also saw Kenya offer to host the AAMA headquarters.
African maritime states have also been pushed to revive ship registers forum and take up trainings by the Lloyds Register to ensure not an ounce of revenue is lost in the ports.
In resolutions reached at the conference, members accepted the offer by President William Ruto for Kenya to host AAMA.
The theme of the conference hosted by Kenya Maritime Authority in partnership with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was “Maritime administrations as pillars of economic development.” The conference attracted representatives from 49 member states.
AAMA is the coordinating body for maritime administrations in Africa.
The conference decided to promote African continental free trade area through increasing the African ships fleet.
“African countries should take deliberate efforts to learn best practices from ship owning countries to develop a regional fleet,” the delegates resolved.
It determined that members attend IMO meetings and develop interest and understanding of IMO’s modus operandi to best utilise its services including the available technical assistance.
It resolved to develop structures to implement African cabotage regime to enable sharing of resources and capacity building as modeled by Nigeria Maritime Administration.
The regime stipulates that domestic coastal trades are restricted to ships built, owned, crewed and operated by citizens of the country adopting the regime.
The delegates agreed to draft substantive legislation to implement various Maritime Conventions in terms of flag state, coastal state and port state control.
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They agreed to recognise the close cooperation between the IMO and the African maritime administrations.
The conference resolved to deliberately draw synergies to develop inter-Africa trade through co-operation and coordination.
They will enhance collaborative, consultative and integrated approach in management of sustainable blue economy and preservation of marine environment.
The member states agreed to establish and provide support for established regional maritime information centres.
“Members noted the established Regional Maritime Centres play a key role in enhancing cooperation and coordination and dealing with maritime crimes such as Illegal Unlawful and Unregulated IUU) fishing as well as execution of search and rescue operations,” said the report.
The conference resolved to ensure members collaborate and cooperate in developing regional administrative and legislative frameworks to enhance safety in inland waterways and promote sharing of resources.
Members will develop national maritime strategies and policies in line with the Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 (AIMS 2050).
The strategy provides a guide on how African economies can be integrated to promote peace, security, stability and sustainable development of economic, social and cultural aspects of the maritime and blue economy sector.
The issue of gender balance in the maritime sector took a centre stage with the members resolving to create awareness and sensitise stakeholders on opportunities available to women in maritime.
The conference decided that members develop strategies and policies to promote placement of women onboard vessels and digitize and introduce structures to ensure prompt communication on gender-based violence.
During the conference, Nigeria presented their cabotage model which was developed in 2003.
It was noted there are challenges such as capacity for construction of larger vessels, insufficient manning and seafarer certification.
Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya noted that Africa still lagged behind in tonnage of merchant fleet and relied on foreign vessels operated by foreign crew.
“Our continent continues to lag behind in many maritime indicators such as tonnage of merchant fleet, volume of goods loaded and discharged in ports, ship turnaround times in our ports, the number of seafarers engaged in the world’s fleet," he stated.
"Despite past efforts, we are still relying on foreign-owned vessels.”