By Obinna Chima
Africa must urgently upgrade its maritime and logistic infrastructure in order to successfully promote the continent’s trade, especially intra-African trade, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has said.
In an address at the Africa Shipowners Summit in Seychelles recently, the Managing Director of Afreximbank’s Intra-African Trade Initiative, Kanayo Awani, who spoke on behalf of Bank’s President, Dr. Benedict Oramah, described weak maritime and logistic infrastructure as being particularly harmful to African trade.
Awani noted the continent currently has the world’s highest transportation and transaction costs.
She also pointed out that only a few of the African countries with access to the sea had established the right infrastructure for marine transport even though Marine transport accounted for 92 per cent of Africa’s external trade and 92 per cent of the continents imports were seaborne.
According to her, Africa currently handles only six per cent of global seaborne traffic, out of which 50 per cent of the volume was handled by Egypt and South Africa.
Lamenting that most African countries did not have national vessels, Awani said it was estimated that Kenya lost about $3 billion annually in money paid to foreign shipping lines.
She recommended incentives to encourage African businesses to support the development of local shipping lines and called for investment in national/domestic fleet through gradual and staggered vessel acquisition, terminal management, freight forwarding and logistics.
Opportunities also existed in inland waterways, cruise ship services, trans-shipment, container manufacturing and repairs, dry docking and other value addition services, such as sorting, arranging, packaging/re-packaging, cold storage and distribution, she added.
The summit, organised by the African Shipowners Association, also featured the presentation of an Honorary Captain’s Award to Oramah by the organisers for Afreximbank’s contribution in supporting the Blue Economy and the Maritime Sector in Africa. Awani accepted the award on behalf of the President.