Dr. Paul Adalikwu, Secretary General, Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) has commenced talks with Afreximbank to open ship financing and procurement of other maritime asset opportunities for African investors and maritime stakeholders.

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After a virtual bilateral meeting between MOWCA and Afreximbank, both organisations agreed on the need to expand maritime business opportunities and strengthen the planned Africa-wide cabotage regime to boost investments and generate jobs.

Adalikwu, who told Dr. Gainmore Zanamwe, the bank’s Acting Director, Trade Facilitator & Intra African Trade about MOWCA’s efforts to achieve easy access to credit for maritime business, noted that all state-owned shipping lines established in West and Central Africa between 1975 and 1990 have ceased to exist.

The SG said the demise of state owned shipping lines left the business to existing small scale sea carriers in Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent.

According to Dr Adalikwu, seaborne trade is dominated by the giant shipping lines from Europe and Asia and the only profit Africa makes is the registration fees of their vessels in some member states and port fees when they call to discharge cargoes leading to capital flight. For the objectives of AfCTA to be realized, there must be African owned vessels plying the continent.

He further indicated that shipping needs the modernization of African ports, intermodal connectivity with other modes of transport, such as rail, road, pipeline and inland waterways and the development of dry ports to solve the problem of likely congestion

The SG informed the meeting of the task of transforming MOWCA to the African Maritime Organisation (AMO) and it’s ongoing partnering with African Development Bank (AfDB), Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and hopes to meet other regional bodies soon

He also observed the need for port infrastructural development financing for seamless movement of goods from the ports, just as there is the need to build inland dry ports and warehouses for landlocked countries for storage for import/export goods, hence looking up to Afreximbank for partnership.

On the benefits of developing the blue economy, the SG cited Kenya and Seychelles as countries that have leveraged on their ocean resources to create wealth and gainful means of livelihood for their women and youths through the blue economy and that MOWCA would wish to replicate this to other member States. This again, he said could be an area of partnership with the bank.

Adalikwu added that there is the need to harmonise the legal framework as AfCFTA objectives cannot work with the spiked activities of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. He informed that at the moment three countries -Nigeria, Cameroun and Togo have enacted laws to prosecute maritime criminals and that MOWCA is planning a regional conference later in the year in Abuja, Nigeria for the harmonization of these laws for use by all member States.

The MOWCA SG informed that many countries have a problem dealing with challenges of land transportation and have approached him on how they can get assistance from international organisations like the Afreximbank to support them. He gave examples of Sierra Leone needing assistance to grow their maritime transport and the Cross River State in Nigeria that is needing assistance to facilitate maritime transport trade from Calabar to Cameroun and Equatorial Guinea.

Speaking for Afreximbank, Dr. Gainmore said that there are lots of business opportunities in the shipping sector and that Africa should not be a spectator.

He requested MOWCA to work towards the establishment of a viable maritime industry through the development of public – private partnerships (PPP).

Gainmore said that Afreximbank aligned with MOWCA on the thought processes for African indigenous vessel ownership, especially or those lifting cargo from Africa which can be used as launching pad into global trade.

He said considering the tonnage of goods lifted from Africa, it was not good that Africa is not fully participating in vessel ownership and shipping

Afreximbank, according to Gainmore is presently working with a merchant marine entity on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to drive the maritime sector in the intra African trade and the inland water ways as alternative to reliance on road transport.

He disclosed that there will be an intra Africa trade fair in Egypt from 9th -15th November, 2023 and hopes that both MOWCA and Afreximbank will hold a meeting to spell out what the maritime sector hopes to see in the AfCFTA, what would be the financial expectations, policy and regulatory framework to put in place and take concrete actions on them.

He further suggested that there will be the need for a tripartite meeting of Afreximbank, MOWCA, AfTCFTA and possibly the AU on this trade fair initiative.

Both organisations agreed to keep engaging and working together to actualise their areas of common goals.