No African Country Among World’s Top 20 Shipping Nations – Usoro
Despite the continent of Africa completely surrounded by water, no African nation is ranked among the top 20 shipping nations across the world a situation which has been labeled a major cause for concern by a former Secretary General of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region, Barr. (Mrs.) Mfon Usoro.
Usoro stressed this while giving the welcome address at the Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) in Lagos last week, as the Chairperson of the summit.
Her words: “One could in a manner of speech describe Africa as a giant island surrounded by seas and oceans. About 38 countries in Africa are coastal States bordered by either the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea or the Mediterranean Sea and in some cases by more than one body of water. These bodies of water have been and continue to be vibrant trade routes that dates back to the beginning of history.”
“With these abundant natural resources, why has an African nation not emerged as a maritime superpower? Why is there not a single African nation in the list of 10 or 20 top shipping nations? Should we dare aspire to be among the significant maritime nations? What are the impediments – domestic and external?”
Describing the massive turnout of shipping veterans at NIMS 2021 as a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and tenacity in holding on to that which makes us human; she added that there is hope even in the face of the worst pandemic in human history.
“The Summit Theme BECOMING A SIGNIFICANT MARITIME NATION is compelling as well as timely. Africa has been described by non-Africans and Africans alike as the Next Frontier. Our politicians speak with passion about African Renaissance. The African Union Commission have developed multiple developmental flagship projects such Agenda 2063 with components that comprises of the AfCFTA, 2014 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS 2050), 2016 African Charter on Maritime Security and Safety Development in Africa (Lome Charter) and the 2010 African Maritime Transport Charter etc. Individual African States have I believe produced programmes targeted at economic development for its people,” she said.
According to her, all of the efforts by regional bodies and nations in the maritime sector demonstrate a belief and conviction that Africa’s fate is in its hands, “We have to design the architecture that will indeed make Africa the Next Frontier for the growth and benefit of Africans,” she added.
The event featured conversations around Growing Nigeria’s Merchant Fleet, Maritime Domain Awareness, Trade Facilitation and AfCFTA by speakers that represented the public and private sector players, highlighting the interface between these topics and attaining the status of a significant maritime nation in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of NIMS, Dr. Emeka Akabogu told MMS Plus that the leadership of the summit would study the communiqué and give a direction for the sector with regards choosing an aspect of shipping to explore immediately.
He, however, noted the need for a national transport policy which was highlighted by several participants, adding that several industry experts have clamoured for the policy over the years.
“Although there is an existing transport policy that has been considered, it is however necessary that it is thoroughly implemented and enacted as a formal document which expresses Nigeria’s maritime policy. This is necessary to create the framework for action that is uniform and consistent by industry operators across board. There is a great need for a national transport policy and as soon as that is put in place, it will be a welcome development,” Akabogu said.