Abiola Seun. |.
In a report “Africa Blue Economy Strategy”, the AU noted that foreigners intentionally destroyed the budding African shipping lines and conferences to ensure that only Europeans offer such services and at their own prices.
West Africa is home to port facilities in the process of continuous modernisation since the end of the colonial era.
To this end, the group also concluded plans to reduce, if not eliminate foreign domination of shipping businesses in the continent as it commenced research and studies in fisheries, aquaculture, conservation and sustainable aquatic ecosystems, shipping/transportation, trade, ports, maritime security, safety and enforcement, coastal and maritime tourism, climate change, resilience, environment, infrastructure, sustainable energy and mineral resources and innovative industries, polices, institutional and governance, employment, job creation and poverty eradication as well as innovative financing.
According to the report, the AU noted that in its current configuration, maritime trade remains dominated by arms conglomerates which unilaterally set freight rates and thus organise the shipping market as they see fit.
“In a context of hyper competition, marked by competitive interactions generating situations of permanent imbalance, the maritime transport sector, like all sectors of the economy, is facing a rapid evolution of business conditions. Since the liberalisation of shipping in 1995, most shipping companies, particularly those in West and Central Africa have disappeared. Shippers, therefore, have serious difficulties in transporting their cargoes at reasonable costs, with foreign shipping companies operating at very high freight rates.
“Moreover, in most African countries, port infrastructures are obsolete and transport corridors in poor condition. However, there have been positive developments in recent years. In 2017, the global economy and maritime trade rebounded from the historical lows of 2016, nearly a decade after the 2008-2009 economic and financial crisis. The main indicators of the economy and shipping have increased, reflecting growth in global investment, manufacturing and trade in goods.
“With GDP growth of 3.1 per cent in 2017, up from 2.5 per cent in 2016, the global economy has recovered significantly, with positive impacts on maritime traffic in Africa. It is in this context that the African Union has decided to take initiatives to promote maritime transport, port activities, security, maritime security, as well as interstate exchanges.”
The Agenda 2063, strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the 50 years refers to the ports operations. Marine transport is also one of the outlook the Union is considering and the main objectives in the field of transport are: maritime transport and auxiliary services, port management, safety of maritime navigation, promotion of the African flag, promotion and protection of the interests of shippers, access to the sea and freedom of transit for landlocked states, development of waterways, development of maritime infrastructures, promotion of an African fleet, promotion of an African maritime code harmonized.
“Others are The Lomé Charter 2016, which aims essentially to promote and strengthen cooperation in the fields of maritime awareness, prevention through early warning and the fight against piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit trafficking of any kind, and The African Maritime Charter Revised which seeks to declare, articulate and implement harmonized maritime transport policies capable promoting sustained growth and development African merchant fleet and to foster closer cooperation amongst States parties of the same region and between regions.”
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