Ship owners urge leaders to revamp maritime laws

By - | Oct 04, 2012

By Patrick Beja  

Ship owners in Africa are excited as the continent introduces favourable policies and regulations to govern the maritime sector.

They say the current policies have not benefited the industry in Africa as citizens have not invested in ships.

In an interview, Funmi Folorunso, maritime consultant and head of the Association of African Shipowners, said they are happy that governments were developing favourable policies to aid growth of the maritime industry.

“Ship owners are going to participate fully in articulating our position regarding the maritime policies for the continent to ensure they benefit us,” she said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the African Maritime Administrations and Ship Registrars’ conference on Tuesday, Folorunso said Africa has not been attractive for ship owners because policies have made investment in ships too costly and cumbersome.

“Policies and laws have made it difficult to acquire vessels. Financing has also been a problem for the investors,” she said.

So difficult has been ship ownership been that even the association of African shipowners is registered in the United Kingdom.

According to her, Africa owns just about 4,900 vessels, with a handful merchant ships.

“We want to work in partnership with the maritime industry regulators to get full benefits of the industry so as to create wealth and employment in Africa,” she argued.

She was flanked by Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) director general Nancy Karigithu, African Maritime Policy Advisory Centre president Magnus Addico, and South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) Executive Head Samuel Nkosi.

The conference, dubbed ‘Africa in Preparation for a Maritime Strategic Take-off’ is expected to implement ideals of the African Maritime Transport Charter developed by the African Union.

Priority policies

Article 13 of the charter supports co-operation among African shipping companies. It also encourages establishment and development of African shipping lines by adopting as priority national policies, regulations and programmes that attract public and private investment in ships and shipping in general.

Meanwhile, Article 9 of the charter promotes the establishment of shippers’ councils to create an enabling legal framework for their operation.

The councils are responsible for protecting and defending the interest of shippers (importers and exporters) by simplification of transport and trade procedures as well as the negotiation of transport costs and conditions.

At the conference, heads of maritime administrations will launch a master plan expected to anchor the continent on the global shipping industry.

The industry leaders said the conference was a response to the continent’s unimpressive share of global investments in the maritime industry despite its significant contribution to world maritime cargo.

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