By Eric Ogott
Maritime administrations, play pivotal roles in driving economic development by serving as a catalyst for safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally sustainable shipping.
Xiaojie Zhang, Director, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO said that a well-functioning maritime administration is an incentive for growth of shipping and ancillary services which enhance trade that drives socio-economic development.
“Africa is lagging behind in economic growth because it has not made the necessary human capital and financial investment in maritime transportation, and this accounts for the lowest level of intra-continental trade,” Zhang said during the opening ceremony of the 6th AAMA Conference & IMO Conference on Low Carbon Shipping in Africa
Zhang observed that the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is seen as a potential game-changer for Africa and could boost intra-African maritime trade by up to 33% and cut the continent’s trade deficit by 51%.
According to available statistics, Africa accounts for just 2% of global trade and only 17% of African exports are intra-continental, compared with 59% for Asia and 68% for Europe.
Zhang noted that the potential for transformation across Africa is therefore significant. The agreement, that is the AfCFTA, aims to reduce all trade costs and enable Africa to integrate further into global supply chains and will eliminate 90% of tariffs, focus on outstanding non-tariff barriers, and create a single market with free movement of goods and services. Cutting red tape and simplifying customs procedures to bring significant income gains.
Zhang said that the challenge for Africa is to ensure and optimize benefits from shipping and maritime economy, being an island continent, by repositioning Africa’s maritime administrations and making them the pillars of economic revival they ought to be.
“It will require future interrogation on the relationship between safety culture and attraction of investment in shipping, environmental stewardship in shipping and economic growth, global shipping standard, politics, commerce and integration, economics of maritime 2 regulation and the challenge of poverty. The way and manner Africa overcomes these existential challenges will go a long way in determining whether Africa can compete favourably in the 21st century globalized world,” he added.