By FOSTER OBI
The African Union has concluded plans to put together an African Cabotage regime that will ensure that only vessels owned by African trades within its coast. This grand plan is a way of checkmating foreign dominance of shipping firms, which has relegated indigenous vessels to the background over the years. Daily Sun gathered that to make this plan workable, the Union has also come up with an African Maritime Transport Charter which it expects to use to develop the shipping industry in Africa. Funmi Folorunsho,
Executive, Africa Shippers Association, said that the Union has mandated the association to get all countries within the continent to sign the Charter so as to ensure that no country allows any foreign shipping firm into its waters. She noted that the charter would keep all the mother vessels out of Africa since only African owned vessels will be allowed to ferry cargoes within the continental coastal waters.
She explained that the group is not unmindful of some resistance and protests from those that will be affected by the action but noted that the moment the charter is signed by all African countries, shipping business in the content will begin to breathe fresh air. According to her “African Union has decided to bring all Governments in Africa together to sign what we call the African Maritime Transport Charter which provides for a development strategy for Africa. “The Union is introducing Cabotage in the entire continent and has asked all countries to introduce cabotage. “What this means is that there will be no hiding place for non Africans to continue to dominate trade in Africa.
You see foreigners bring their mother vessels into African waters and use smaller vessels to move products back and forth on our waters but when these cannot enter any African country, they will be forced to stay outside Africa “Very shortly we will have a situation where only African vessels will be carrying African goods within African coast by God’s grace and with the push from African Union.
“We have gone a bit far, we could go further if we all push for all African countries to sign the African Maritime Transport Charter”, she said, adding “Until we get the required number of signatories then we will not start. My role and your role is to muster support for that maritime charter to be signed by all African countries”. Speaking on the number of countries that have signed the charter, she said that are not many yet adding that the signing procedure is still cumbersome because of the government departments involved.