In a bid to build the maritime industry in Africa and to encourage indigenous participation in trade facilitation within the continent of Africa, the African Shipowners Association (ASA) has keyed into the African Union (AU) proposed agenda for the Africa We Want called, Agenda 2063 which includes, to make Africa’s Blue/ocean economy, a major contributor to continental transformation and growth, through knowledge on marine and aquatic biotechnology.
At a forum recently, the Secretary General of African Ship owners Association, Ms. Funmi Folorunso, while addressing delegates from different African countries said, “whatever we want done among members states of the AU, we are going to resolve here. For ship owners and for all friends and contemporaries who are ship owners, send information that will be helpful because this is the way to go and we will support it and we hope that in the next few months you will send us good news and if it requires us to come to your countries, we will come.”
According to her, “African ship owners are into something a little bigger now, when we started it was just to bring ship owners together to optimize the efforts of the African Maritime Transport Chambers but we have gone way above where we started and I believe that in the next five years Africa will own ships. So I urge you to sign into this, I am not talking about memberships alone but that you see this as a movement.”
The AU aspirations for 2063 has in its wisdom prepared a 50-year plan which will be renewed every 10years, aimed at a 2063, where African countries will be amongst the best performers in global quality of life measures, attained through strategies of inclusive growth, job creation, increasing agricultural production, global maritime participation, investment in science and technology, research, and the provision of basic services.
Also speaking at the same forum, the AU representative, Dr. Kassim Khamis, stated that by 2063 Africa’s collective GDP will be proportionate to her share of the world’s population and natural resources endowments and African countries will be amongst the best performers in global mutually beneficial links with her Diaspora, and be a continent of seamless borders and management of cross border resources through dialogue.”
According to him, “Africa shall be a continent where the free movement of people, capital, goods and services will result in significant increase in trade and investment amongst African countries rising to the unprecedented levels and in the strengthening of Africa’s place in global trade.”
He further stated that “By 2063, the necessary infrastructure will be in place to support Africa’s accelerated integration and growth, technological transformation, trade and development. This will include high speed railway networks, roads, shipping lines, sea and air transport, as well as well developed ICT and the digital economy. A pan-African high speed train network will connect all the major cities and capitals of the continent, with adjacent highways and pipelines for gas, oil, water as well as ICT broadband cables and other infrastructure. This will be a catalyst for manufacturing, skills development, technology, research and development, integration and intra-African trade, investments and tourism.”
Meanwhile, the president of ASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye said, “a lot of cargo is coming in and leaving Africa and we do not have African ships carrying them. There is a head of government meeting coming up in March 2016, we are taking our proposals to the AU meeting because we need to let the government know how much we are losing in Africa. We need to let them know that we need to create jobs for a lot of our youths who are unemployed and trained as seafarers.
“The challenge we have is that we do not have an audit of the number of cargo leaving Africa, once we have this information, it will guide us to take our business back to Africa a little at a time but we do not have the vessel to do this.
Speaking further, he said “Africa is a bigger continent than China and Africa owns the cargo because most of the materials used in China come out of Africa, as a continent we need to see how see can drive the maritime trade with policies put in place as a continent and not as individual countries.”
Speaking further on Africa’s trade potentials, Kassim said that the world class infrastructure, accompanied by trade facilitation, has seen intra African trade growing from less than 12 percent in 2013, and will be approaching 50 percent by 2045 while Africa’s share of global trade shall rise from 2 percent to 12 per cent, which will in turn spur the growth of Pan-African companies of global reach in all sectors.
He said “We are determined to eradicate poverty in one generation and build shared prosperity through social and economic transformation of the continent. We aspire that by 2063, Africa shall be a prosperous continent, with the means and resources to drive its own development, with sustainable long term stewardship of its resources where; African people have a high standard of living, high quality of life, sound health, well educated and skilled citizens, technology and innovation for a knowledgeable society where no child misses school due to poverty.”
At last Africa is set to take its place in global maritime affairs, but what will be the fate of the estranged Nigeria Ship owners association (NISA), as it will be difficult for international stakeholders to identify with a group that has been besieged by allegations of fraud and disunity. To avoid being left behind in this snowballing initiative, it is time for NISA to put its house in order.