Delegates at the AAMA Conference

African maritime leaders under the aegis of Association of Heads of African Maritime Administrations AAMA have adopted a common front towards the eradication of piracy, sea robbery and dumping of nuclear and toxic wastes into the continent’s maritime domain.

This is one of the major resolutions reached at the just concluded third AAMA Conference hosted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city between April 19 to 21, 2017, in conjunction with the International Maritime Organisation IMO, with the theme: ‘Sustainable use of Africa’s Oceans and Seas’.

In a communique issued at the end of the three-day event attended by 34 African countries, the association noted that the resolution by member states to work together was in line with efforts to ensure that African oceans were not overexploited and not used as a dumping ground for dangerous materials and substances.

They therefore resolved that is urgent need for the member nations to protect their population, assets and critical infrastructure from maritime pollution through the prevention of dumping of toxic and nuclear wastes into the waters.

This, according to the association is one of the major ways to safeguard the future of maritime wealth in the continent alongside other pertinent positions.

To achieve this, member nations of the association consequently agreed to make concerted efforts towards this and also plan to pursue the enhancement of wealth creation and regional and international trade performance through maritime-centric capacity and capability building.

They are also to ensure the minimisation of environmental damage and expedite recovery from catastrophic events.

The conference also observed that there was need to prevent hostile and criminal acts at sea, by coordination and harmonising of the prosecution of offenders and improvement of Integrated Coastal Zone/Area Management in Africa so that the continent could grow its maritime trade.

The communiqué also enjoined all African countries to participate in the day, July 25 of every year set aside by the African Union as the African Day of Oceans and Seas.

The communiqué reads in part: “The African Union Commission has set aside July 25th of every year as Africa’s Day of the Seas and Oceans. Maritime Administrations are encouraged to institutionalise this day to raise awareness among 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, environment protection and human element”,

Some of the member countries in attendance include 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 and Cote D’Ivoire.

Others include Comoros Island, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Republic of Benin, Democratic Republic Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Kenya, Guinea, Libya and Nigeria.

Also in attendance were some non-African countries such as Jamaica, Netherlands, Malaysia, international associations such as IMO, Abuja MOU, Ports Management Association of West and Central Africa PMAWCA, as well as indigenous associations and government agencies including Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, Nigerian Shippers Council NSC, NITT, National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA, ASA, WIMA, and Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO.

A high point of the event was the election of the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside as the new chairman of the association for one-year tenure.

Nigeria was elected chairman of AAMA alongside other eleven member executive committee comprising of representatives of Central Africa (Cameroun & Cape Verde), West Africa (Cote D’Ivoire & Ghana), East Africa (Tanzania & Comoros), Southern Africa (Mozambique and South Africa), North Africa (Egypt & Sudan) and Uganda representing Land-locked countries.

South Africa also retained Secretariat of the Association while the Association agreed to hold the 2018 Conference in Egypt. Sychelles and Namibia are jostling for the 2019 hosting rights.

AAMA also formally approved the Organisation of African Maritime Awards starting from Egypt 2018 to recognize and honour outstanding Africans in the industry.

Dr. Peterside, 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.

In what appeared his valedictory speech, he stated that task of leading the Africa’s maritime administrators was enormous and that there was the need to collaborate with one another to ensure that Africa’s oceans and seas were not over exploited to the detriment of the continent.

He identified capacity building as a major challenge facing Africa’s maritime industry, a development that had made member nations to resolve to address the enormous challenge of building human capacities in the maritime industry especially regarding training and employment of cadets.

He therefore urged maritime administrations to develop an integrated human resource strategy for the maritime industry 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 (AIMS 2050).

While, congratulating the new chairman, Tilayi described Peterside as a committed and dedicated technocrat that will, no doubt, take maritime administration to a higher level.

He pledged his support for the NIMASA Director General and urged other African nations to do likewise in order to advance the Africa’s maritime Industry.

Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari who had also congratulated Peterside on his election as the chairman of AAMA, stated at the opening of the three day conference that the Federal Government of Nigeria on its own part has paid significant attention to making the Nigeria’a maritime business environment a much friendlier one, adding that the immediate priority in this regard is the entry and exit of goods especially in Nigerian seaports to increase efficiency of the nation’s seaports and enable quick turnaround time of vessels.

President Buhari who was represented by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) said that the Nigerian Government had recently approved a new maritime security architecture and infrastructure to be jointly coordinated by NIMASA, National Security Adviser and Federal Ministry of Transport.

According to him, the Federal Government has given required support to the Navy so that they can work with others within our sub region to effectively police our waters for trade. This arrangement will also contribute to resolving and eliminating piracy as well as sea robbery in our maritime domain.

The President had also unveiled the new NIMASA brand to usher in a new direction for the Africa’s maritime industry

Secretary General of the IMO, Kitack Lim, who was represented by the head, Africa (Anglophone) Section Technical Cooperation Division of the IMO, Mr. William Azuh, observed that African continent needs to increase its level of vessel tonnage as well as develop the much needed maritime infrastructure, especially in terms of ship building and equipment to be able to effectively participate in the global shipping trade to the benefits of its citizenry.

He however charged leadership of the association and indeed member states of the association to begin to develop the framework that would enable them take full advantage of the vast maritime potential embedded in the continent.