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African Ship owners Association (ASA) has called for the availability of cargo to guarantee ship finance and development in the continent. President of ASA, Mr. Temisan Raymon Omatseye, who stated this in Lagos at a three-day 2016 African Maritime Conference with theme ‘Financing the African Fleet: Capacity Development in the African Maritime Industry’ said the availability of cargoes would enable Africans engage in the trade.

According to ASA, which is the umbrella body of ship owners in the continent, this move would provide the impetus for developing the shipping sub-sector. Financing of vessel is not the problem. When you look at the focus of the conference, you are talking about financing and African fleet. I can tell you categorically that for me, I know where to get the money from. All the discussions, we know how to fund the vessel. Where the problem is, is the cargo. Once I can guarantee cargoes, I will get the money to fund the shipping,”he said.

Omatseye, who is a former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said the association would meet with African leaders in Lome to request that they changed their ECO-terms agreement.

The ASA president explained that this means that any cargo leaving Africa must be on a cost and freight (C&F) basis, so that it is the African nations that would determine the vessels that would carry their cargoes to deliver. According to him, any importer bringing on free on board (FOB), “we will send our vessel there to pick up the cargo and bring it to Africa. That is what we need to do.” He argued that when that is done the financing aspect would be locked in. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma represented by Mr. Kazeem Karris, in her goodwill message, said Africa desired is to be an integrated, peaceful and prosperous continent. To ensure that this work out, she called for an efficient use of Africa’s resources.

She pointed out that this was the only way to ensure that the shipping sector of the African continent get to the desired height. Also speaking, the President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, Mr. Greg Ogbeifun said Africa needed efficient ship-owners’ association to strengthen shipping development. He said that in spite of the need to diversify economic activities from oil and gas, Nigerian fleet was yet to participate in the increased shipping activities.

Ogbeifun said that collaboration to strengthen the sector in the continent was important, even as they looked forward to re-establishing a Nigerian fleet, which would create jobs, reversing capital flight. A major industry operator, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, in his remarks, said Nigeria had lost control of the cabotage trade, leading to capital flight through using foreign-flagged vessels for transporting the nation’s cargoes. Jolapamo, however, encouraged efforts in development of human resources and sectors of the maritime industry to benefit the nationís economy. Discussants at the interactive session observed that Africans must take effective steps toward financing shipping, building infrastructure and human capacity.