The African Ship owners Association (ASA) has decried the non availability of accurate record of the number of cargoes coming into and leaving Africa annually.
The President of ASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye who made this observation at the ongoing African Maritime Conference in Lagos with the theme, “African Cargo for African Ship owners” pointed out that lack of audit of the number of cargoes that are leaving and coming into Africa was the major challenge to Africa as a continent.
Omatseye maintained that there was the need more than before to get the audit of cargoes leaving Africa as well as the amount of money Africans were paying on insurance adding that once there is an available data in that regard, that would guide Africans a lot.
According to him,” So, we are trying to get them (Heads of Government of African Union member countries) to understand, the challenge we have is that we do not have an audit of the number of cargoes that is leaving Africa. So, we want to get the audit of the cargoes leaving Africa, the amount of money we are paying on insurance.
“Once we have that information, that is now what is going to guide us. We are not saying we are going to take 100%, we are going to start taking a bit of it so that we can begin to bring the business back to Africa.
“We don’t have enough vessels, that is the point. You see, what we are trying to do here is, we are trying to say, it is African thing, if you go as Nigeria, they will crush us but if we go as Africa, they will be scared because already, Africa owns the cargo”.
The ASA boss disclosed that the Africans were trying to get policies in place as a continent rather than as individual countries adding that once that happens, Nigeria will benefit.
“We are looking at national cabotage, regional cabotage and continental cabotage. That is what we are looking at and once that starts to happen, you begin to see, our youths will begin to get employed, engineers, seafarers, the rest will begin to train on that basis.
It is an African thing, what we are trying to do as an African cabotage is very simple. We are trying to create a hub and if you heard what I said, we are trying to create a hub. Let us say in West and Central Africa now, if Nigeria doesn’t get its acts together, the hub will go to Lome and it could go to Cotonou”.
On funding, Omatseye who is the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said,” Initially, airlines could not buy aircrafts. That was what happened when all those air crashes were going on, airlines could not buy aircrafts.
“So, Nigeria became signatory to what is called the Cape Town Convention. On the Cape Town Convention, it meant that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority acted as a guarantee to the nonpayment of a loan which means that the lender can collect his aircraft back. That is what Arik did, Arik didn’t do anything special, all Nigeria did was hand the Cape Town Convention and NCAA guaranteed Arik and that is why Arik could buy all the aircrafts they are buying.
“What we are doing now, this only covers airlines, space equipment and railways. What we are doing now is to extend that to cover maritime, that is why AU is driving it and if you see, we have Neon’s, the Unitrans which the guys based in Italy sent an expert who is helping us put together this so that very soon, hopefully, we are not writing a new convention, we are only going to add maritime to already existing convention as protocol and once that is done, then we don’t need finance anymore. I just walk into a ship yard and once NIMASA gives a guarantee, my ships will come in. that is what we are trying to do and we have to get it”.
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