Experts draft blueprint for Africa’s maritime growth

By Patrick Beja

As the scream of the African maritime industry rose after three days of brainstorming, it was clear the continent was at a crossroads as far as growth of the sector was concerned.

Industry experts who came up with a raft of resolutions geared towards lifting the industry noted maritime has been largely ignored and hence had taken a backseat in economic growth of Africa.

Earlier, Transport minister Amos Kimunya had challenged the experts to come up with robust and practical approaches to jump start the industry with potential to drive the economy and create wealth and employment.

Transport charter

“Africa is playing a marginal role in global maritime sector, especially due to almost non-existent ownership of vessels. This is despite Africa having a vibrant shipping presence in its ports,” Kimunya said.

The inaugural heads of African maritime administrations and ship registrars’ conference at Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa was called to try to unlock the potential of the industry that largely benefits other continents while Africa watched.

The conference was an attempt to implement the African maritime transport charter, which encourage revival of maritime activities on the continent. Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) director general Nancy Karigithu played host to the forum.

One of the most radical resolutions was a plan to establish an African maritime bank to finance industry activities.

The reason was that in Africa unlike other sectors like real estate and motor vehicle, commercial banks were not keen to finance acquisition or building of ships or port equipment and projects.

The industry leaders called for the establishment of maritime development clusters to drive maritime development.

Africa should also form a maritime think-tank to advise the maritime sector. The National Maritime Authority would seek the support of the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in developing the industry in the continent. Another strategy would be formation of national ship owners associations and strengthening shippers’ councils to enhance import and export trade.

To promote fleet development, it was recommended that Africans be encourage to own ships and employ African seafarers. The continent would also be encouraged to consolidate efforts by maritime authorities, national shipping lines, shippers council and African banks in security financing and funding of the fleet acquisition and operation programme.

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