The South African Maritime and Safety Agency SAMSA, apex maritime administration in the country has partly blamed the low level of growth and development of shipping business in the continent to the lack of political will on te part of heads of governments in the continent.

Acting CEO of the agency, Sobantu Tilayi, who gave this indication during an exclusive interview in Abuja at the just concluded third Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA, spoke against the background of recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD, which rated African countries very low in terms of ownership of vessels and participation in maritime trade.

The UNCTAD 2016 review of maritime transport, shows that in the share of vessel ownership by country grouping, developing countries in Africa account for only 1.23 per cent, compared to their counterparts in Asia, which own 36.24 per cent.

The report also indicates that out of the 35 top ship-owning countries in the world, which make up approximately 95 per cent of world ship tonnage, none is an African country.

Similarly, other world maritime trade statistics show that African countries marginally represent only 0.9 per cent of shipbuilding yards and marine equipment industries, an indication that the continent is lagging behind both in terms of share of global shipping tonnage, shipbuilding and related equipment industries, an indication that African countries are seriously lagging behind in terms of participation in global shipping.

Tilayi, who is the immediate pars chairman of AAMA, having handed over to the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, observed that successive governments in the African countries have over the years not mustered sufficient political will required to carry out reforms that would enhance participation in the global maritime trade.

He however disclosed that members of AAMA and indeed the leadership of the association would henceforth take it upon themselves to impress it on the heads of governments in the continent to begin to show more commitment and zeal to develop the shipping industry in the continent with a view to increasing Africa’s participation in global shipping activities to the benefit of the African people,

While assessing the impact of the association on the economies of African nations, he said that AAMA has provided the platform that got the entire maritime industry discussed in the league of maritime nations in Africa.

He said: “You know, those of us in AAMA have work tirelessly in the African Union AU; to make sure that the association takes off. We have worked with the regulatory regime that is the integrated African Maritime Strategy 2015 to make sure that all the elements of maritime make it into the agenda 2063”.

“We have also insisted that the regional economic communities manage to have maritime articulation in their various strategies and I think that that in itself has managed to get us into the profile raised for the maritime industry. If you go by the reports from Nigeria and South Africa and I also do know that in Kenya, the number of seafarers is beginning to increase, the number of people employed in the maritime industry is also beginning to increase. All these have been the value of our efforts”.

On the successful hosting of the conference in Nigeria, he said that NIMASA has set a new record in the history of the hosting of the conference, which he said was second to none.

He disclosed that before now, the leadership of the association was at the formalisation stage of the association, adding that it has been fully established now and would also need to begin to institutionalise the association.

“There are various programmes we are already working on. We need a programme of action for the association, we need to address issues of capacity development, research and issues of policy alignment and industry participation, among several others, these are the things we wish to achieve from this conference. At last if the framework to achieve this growth and development would have come from this conference” he also said