By Eromosele Abiodun
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Dakuku Peterside, has said the Maritime Silk Road initiative promoted by China to develop international shipping connectivity across South East Asia, Africa, Oceania, Indian ocean will create a new opening for Africa to advance its economic partnership for the benefit of the continent.
This is just as he charged African governments to protect their economic interest to ensure that the people of Africa benefits from the wealth in the continent.
Peterside who was speaking asÂ the chairman of the 29th annual session of club of ports of the Crans Montana forum currently ongoing in Brussels, Belgium said the maritime silk roads comes with a lot of benefits for the continent.
He, however, charged African countries to be strategic in decision making in order to reap the rewards and avert perceived risks inherent in the initiative.
According to him, â€œWhereas China is pursuing new transportation linkages throughout the Eurasia region and Africa to boost trade and enhance her economic status; Africa must key in to develop her port infrastructure, maritime assets financing and create jobs for her people.â€
Speaking further, the NIMASA boss listed potential threats such as likelihood of ports being taken over by the Chinese to the detriment of Africans, noting that the maritime Silk Road initiative will create opening for African markets to be flooded with Chinese goods.
Peterside also said that as a result of the China-driven initiative, Chinese policy may also affect port calls and hub decisions.Â He warned that the oil tanker and gas markets will be affected by the construction of new pipelines that will connect Africa to China which will engender Chinese political dominance in Africa if not carefully managed.
The NIMASA boss further advocated theÂ support of the China-led maritime Silk Road initiative, but charged Africa to do the needful to ensure her economic interests is fully protected.
Other speakers at the Club of Ports annual meeting were Jose Gonclaves of Cape Verde, Mohamed Ibrahim of Mali , Abass AlNaqi of Organisation of Arab PETROLUEM exporting countries, Sergey Sidorsky of Eurasian Economic Commission, Mircea Ciopraga of TRCECA, Deniz Beten of NATO, Jean Osso of Congo, Pierre Ndiaye of Gabon, Farshad Shahbaz of Iran , Erwin Cootjans of NERTHERLAND, Salou Oumarou of BELGIUM, Paul Altena of Belgium.
The Maritime Silk Road refers to the maritime section of historic Silk Road that connects China to Southeast Asia, Indonesian archipelago, Indian subcontinent, Arabian Peninsula, Somalia and all the way to Egypt and finally Europe, that flourished between 2nd-century BCE and 15th-century CE.
The trade route encompassed numbers of seas and ocean; including South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The maritime route overlaps with historic Southeast Asian maritime trade, Spice trade, Indian Ocean trade and after 8th centuryâ€”the Arabian naval trade network. The network also extends eastward to East China Sea and Yellow Sea to connect China with Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago.