By Adeleye Ajayi & Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni
Lagos – The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is to assist the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) to address maritime security challenges.
It is also to build human capacity to implement, monitor and enforce international maritime safety instruments.
These were part of the resolutions of a regional conference organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in conjunction with the IMO at the 3rd AAMA Conference in Abuja from April 19 to April 21.
According to the communiqué, the IMO will support, when possible, regular meetings of heads of maritime administrations in Africa at frequencies to be determined by the association.
“To achieve inclusive participation in global trade, countries must have the political will to facilitate trade through transparency, simplicity of trade documentation and procedures, reduction of bureaucracy and implementation of applicable laws.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, noted that Heads of State and Governments of the African Union had resolved to make the maritime sector a major driver for economic development.
“The vice president affirmed that the Nigerian government recently approved a new maritime architectural framework that would effectively make the waters of Nigeria free from pirates and also improve international trade.
“In addition, government will also strengthen defence to protect and safeguard business,’’ the communique said.
It said the African Union Commission had set aside July 25 of every year as Africa’s Day of the Seas and Oceans.
The communique encouraged maritime administrations to institutionalise the day to raise awareness among stakeholders of the strategic importance of maritime governance for sustainable development.
It stressed the need to highlight the important role Africa needs to play at international maritime forum to raise awareness on Africa’s “Blue Economy’’.
The communique said the focus on maritime safety, security, maritime environment protection and human element should be enhanced.
“Maritime Administrations are urged to devote concerted efforts and planning to pursue enhancement of wealth creation, regional and international trade performance.
“There should be minimisation of environmental damage and expedited recovery from catastrophic events, prevention of hostile and criminal acts at sea and harmonisation of the prosecution of offenders,’’ it said.
The communique noted that there should be population protection, including assets and critical infrastructure from maritime pollution and prevention of dumping of toxic and nuclear wastes.
“There should be improvement of Integrated Coastal Zone and Area Management in Africa, promotion of ratification, domestication and implementation of international instruments.
“To address the enormous challenges of building human capacities in the maritime sector, especially regarding training and employment of cadets, maritime administrations should develop an integrated human resources strategy,” it added.
The communique explained that said this would support provision of skills.
“Taking into account gender balance in the entire maritime value chain, which included shipping and logistics, offshore activities, fishing, tourism and recreation as well as safety and security (Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy -AIMS 2050).
“Governments should provide fiscal incentives to attract vessels to their respective ship registry.
“Governments should adopt the Port State Measures Agreement and consider taking immediate actions to implement and enforce the measures.
“Governments should strengthen the legal and governance framework for monitoring and control of fishing activities on a national and regional basis.
“Governments must develop measures in addition to FAO guidelines to protect our exclusive economic zone and territorial waters from illegal, unlawful unreported fishing by foreign fishing trawlers,’’ the communiqué said.
It urged members to re-enforce regional cooperation and coordination, enhance information sharing and regulatory governance, to combat the menace of piracy and other maritime crimes.
“AAMA is urged to identify and carry out capacity building exercises for member nations according to their needs.
“Maritime administrations are encouraged to facilitate the ratification and adoption of the African Maritime Transport Charter and the 2017 Lome Charter.
“AAMA has resolved to take the lead in the collaboration of maritime agencies and the development of a well-defined national and continental strategy.
“All maritime administrations in Africa are encouraged to attend Africa Day of the Seas and Oceans on July 25, 2017 at Addis Ababa,’’ it said.
To foster economic co-operation between AAMA members, the communique noted that AAMA had agreed to develop and adopt Near-Coastal Trading, Certification and Competency Code for mutual recognition of certificates that would reduce contentions by Port State Control Inspectors.
It urged member administrations to deposit formal instruments with the secretariat of AAMA to complete their membership formalities.
According to the communiqué, AAMA has formally approved the African Maritime Awards starting from Egypt 2018 to recognise and honour outstanding Africans.
“NIMASA has been elected Chairman of AAMA with an 11-member executive committee comprising representatives of Central Africa (Cameroun and Cape Verde), West Africa (Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana) and East Africa (Tanzania and Comoros).
Others are Southern Africa (Mozambique and South Africa), North Africa (Egypt and Sudan) and Uganda representing land-locked countries.
The theme of the conference was “Sustainable Use of Africa’s Oceans and Seas’’.
The representatives of the following member states attended the conference – Mauritania, South Sudan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Seychelles, Somalia and South Africa.
Others were Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Comoros, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Kenya, Guinea, Libya and Nigeria.
Other countries that attended were Jamaica, Netherlands and Malaysia.
Also in attendance were representatives of Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (Abuja MoU), Port Management Association of West and Central Africa, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigerian Shippers Council.
Others were Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, National Inland Waterways Authority and Food and Agricultural Organisation.