Africa’s Blue/Ocean economy is a key driver in the African transformation –AU Commission


The African Union Commission has described the Africa’s Blue/Ocean economy as a key driver in the African transformation that all African looked forward to.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma who made this observation in a message she delivered at a 3 day African Maritime conference organized by the African Ship owners Association (ASA) with the theme: “African Cargo for African Ship owners’, which began in Lagos on Monday opined that with the proposed Maritime Directorate in the African Union, the 2050 AIM Strategy, the African Maritime Transport Charter, Africans should witness the growth of an African maritime industry.

Represented by the Coordinator of 2050 African Integrated Maritime (AIM) Strategy Taskforce in the African Union Commission, Mr. Samuel Kame Damguia recalled that Agenda 2063 stated that Africa’s Blue/ ocean economy which was three times the size of its land mass should be a major contributor to the continental transformation and growth through knowledge on marine and aquatic biotechnology, the growth of an Africa-wide shipping industry, the development of sea, river and lake transport and fishing as well as exploitation and beneficiation of deep sea mineral and other resources.

She maintained that as the continent move towards its vision of Africa in 2063, Africans must speed up their efforts to build, develop and maintain the necessary infrastructure to support Africa’s accelerated integration and growth, technological transformation, trade and development adding that that would include high-speed railway networks, roads, shipping lines, sea and air transport as well as a well developed Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and the digital economy.

“Amongst the first seafarers and shipbuilders were from Africa; every day large numbers of ships navigate our waters but we have so few ships flying under African flags and too few African ship owners. This is not only a matter of continental pride, it is about economics. The ships who take and bring cargo from our shores, the jobs, the food and other services they use, all these are value adds, which Africans have very little stake in. in addition, our countries are increasingly training seafarers but our young people cannot get sea experience because we do not have enough ships.

“This situation must change and we there need an industrial strategy to build an African Shipping and Oceanic transport sector. During the recent launch of the African Decade of the Seas and Oceans on the 25 July, 2015 in Addis Ababa, we also hosted amongst other the African Ship owners Association and the African Women in Maritime. Both these groups indicated that they want to work with our governments, the RECs and the AU to ensure the African Shipping Sector grows by leaps and bounds”, she said.

She therefore commended the government and people of Nigeria for hosting the very first of the continent-wide consultations on the African Decade of the Seas and Oceans 2015-2025 believing that Nigeria would continue to play its leadership role as well as remained a champion for the development of the Africa Blue economy.

Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello stated that the decline of Africa’s role in world trade over the last 20 years had been traced to an erosion of its competitiveness saying that one important reason for this is that the cost and quality of transport services available to African Shippers had not followed global trends towards cheaper, more rapid and customized services.

Bello whose goodwill message was read by Chief Cajethan Agu noted that it was worthy to note that the logistic revolution in maritime policies which sparked the rapid expansion of the world trade had yet to reach Africa’s producers and shippers.

According to him,” In order to realize the above set objective and in line with the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050, we appeal to your Association to lead the campaign for AU member countries to embrace the Blue Economy to enable the African continent benefit from the resources and potentials of the Africa seas and oceans which include maritime and transportation, fisheries and aquatic nutrition, exploitation of ocean deposit like hydrocarbons, blue energy production, wind energy, waves and tidal energy and cruise shipping and tourism.

“On our own part, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council shall remain committed to support projects and programmes that are designed to build capacity for the carriage of African cargoes, reduce the cost of transporting cargo in the continent, guarantee quality service to the African shippers, encourage private sector investment in the maritime sector and improve the standard of living of the citizenry”.

On his part, the President of the African Ship owners Association (ASA), Mr. Temisan Omatseye disclosed that the essence of the conference was to prepare a paper for the African Heads of Government Meeting coming up in March next year so as to put before them issues of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and Haden, issues of cargo among others.

“The reason is very simple, a lot of cargoes are leaving Africa and coming to Africa and we do not have any ship to carry them. There is Heads of Government meeting coming up in March. The Heads of Government meeting is where we are taking proposals from here to, to tell the government, we need to tell them how much we are losing in Africa. We are going to tell them to change our trade terms.

“What that means is this, any good being exported from Africa should be on C and F basis which means we own the cargo, we decide which ship it goes to. Any good we are importing will be on FOB which means leave the goods at your port, we send our ships to come and collect it.

“These are what we are going to have and we are going to go to AU meeting coming up in Lome and hopefully, we are all going to be there and we are going to present it before all the Heads of Government in AU as a paper and they will all go back and go to their Ministers of Transport to come out with a clear cut policy that will drive the African maritime industry”, he said.

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