Eromosele Abiodun

In a concerted efforts to ensure that African oceans are not over exploited and also not seen as dumping ground for dangerous materials, participating countries at the just concluded conference of the Association of Heads of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) have agreed on the need for population, assets and critical infrastructure protection from maritime pollution by prevention of dumping of toxic and nuclear wastes.

This was contained in the communique released at the end of the conference which held in Abuja, Nigeria.

The body of all administrators of maritime regulatory bodies came up with the position as one of the major ways to safeguard the future of maritime wealth in the continent alongside other pertinent positions.

Members of the association consequently agreed to devote concerted efforts and planning to pursue the enhancement of wealth creation and regional and international trade performance through maritime-centric capacity and capability building while ensuring the minimisation of environmental damage and expedited recovery from catastrophic events.

These, they observed, should be taken into cognisance as well as prevention of hostile and criminal acts at sea, by coordination/harmonisation of the prosecution of offenders and improvement of Integrated Coastal Zone/Area Management in Africa, if the continent is to grow maritime trade.

The conference, which had in attendance representatives from Mauritania, South Sudan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Comoros, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Benin, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Kenya, Guinea, Libya and Nigeria as well as other non-African countries and international associations such as Jamaica, Netherlands, Malaysia, IMO, Abuja MOU, PMAWCA, SOAN, NPA, NSC, NITT, NIWA, ASA, WIMA, FAO also witnessed the election of the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside as the chairman of the association.

Peterside, who takes over from Mr. Sobantu Tilayi, the acting Chief Executive Officer of South African Maritime and Safety Agency (SAMSA), who has been the acting Chair of the association since 2013 stated that task of leading the African maritime administrators is enormous but there is the need to collaborate with one another to ensure that the African Oceans and seas are not over exploited to the detriment of the continent.

Part of the resolutions made at the conference enjoined all African countries to participate in the day set aside by the AU as the African Day of Oceans and Seas.

“The African Union Commission has set aside 25th July of every year as Africa’s Day of the Seas and Oceans. Maritime administrators are encouraged to institutionalise this day to raise awareness amongst stakeholders of the strategic importance of maritime governance for sustainable development; highlight the important role Africa needs to play at international maritime forum; raise awareness on Africa’s “Blue Economy” and enhance the focus on maritime safety, security, maritime environment protection and human element”, the said.

In noting that capacity  building had been a major challenge in the African Maritime sector, member nations agreed to address the enormous challenges of building human capacities in the maritime sector especially regarding training and employment of cadets by urging maritime administrations to develop an integrated human resources strategy for the maritime sector to support the provision of skills taking into account gender balance in the entire maritime value chain which includes shipping and logistics, offshore activities, fishing, tourism and recreation, and safety and security.