By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Post) – Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has challenged African countries to develop its maritime infrastructure in other to attract investment.
He stated that with the potentials of the African maritime sector, competitive operating environment, proper regulation, incentives and infrastructural development; Africa would be the next maritime investment haven.
Dr. Peterside who made this known while speaking on the theme “Promoting Sustainable Investment and Financing In Africa’s Shipping & Maritime Industry” at the Africa Maritime Summit held during the London International Shipping Week 2017 in the United Kingdom, stated that Africa’s share of import and export via world container throughput is on the increase annually.
The NIMASA DG who is also the chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) however regretted that Africa is still not a major player globally in maritime trade because of lack of strategic attention to the sector and pointed out that despite operating one of the largest ship registries in the world in Liberia; Africans do not own vessels to match the corresponding statistics of the large registry.
According to Peterside “We are not among top ten ship owning countries, we are not suppliers of maritime professionals and we are also not a ship financing continent. While an African country is among top 10 global ship registries because Liberia operates an open registry, Africans do not own vessels. In fact African countries pay 40 per cent-70 per cent more freight on imports and exports due to poor infrastructure, high cost of insurance, piracy, low vessel owning capacity and poor ship connectivity” he said.
The NIMASA DG also noted that Ship or Vessel building as well as repairs and maintenance activities are near zero contribution to GDP of the continent. He urged African countries to invest in maritime infrastructure, cooperate among themselves and explore a continental Cabotage regime as recommended in the African Maritime Transport Charter for the benefit of intra continent trade.
He said immeasurable facts have proven Africa as the next Maritime investment Haven, adding that 38 of 54 African nations are either coastal or island states. He further mentioned that the continent is one of the most endowed continents in terms mineral resources with 27 per cent of the World’s arable lands.
“Because of our coastline of about 30,725km hosting 90 major ports and our arable lands, Africa will continue to export Agricultural produce. Marine Transport accounts for 92 per cent of Africa’s external trades and import, but Africa handles only six per cent of global seaborne traffic with 6 ports in Egypt and South Africa handling 50 per cent of this volume” he said.
Peterside pointed out that to advance the Intra-Continent trade accounts; countries must invest in new ports and terminals infrastructure, ship building, recycling, ownership and maintenance which are conservatively estimated at $14.2 billion annually.
He further stated that there was need for a robust financing regime of the requirements for 13 Sub-Saharan Africa countries transport infrastructure, which is estimated to be $6.4 billion and advised countries around the continent to address the acute dearth of relevant professionals in the sector.
It would be recalled that Peterside since election as the Cchairman of AAMA during the 3rd conference of the association which was held in Abuja had always advocated for collaborative efforts of all African countries in order to grow the continent’s maritime industry. He has continued to champion the cause for Africa to remain a bloc at the international front, especially as regards seeking regulations that would benefit the continent at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).