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MOWCA, AfCFTA to strengthen intra-African maritime trade

By Adaku Onyenucheya
08 March 2023   |   5:20 am
The Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) has commenced bilateral talks with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat to strengthen intra-African trade through maritime and other transportation modes.

Ag. Head of Maritime Policy, Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA), Mr. Eno-Richard Egbe (left); Secretary General, MOWCA, Dr. Paul Adalikwu; Secretary General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Mr. Wamkele Mene; Senior Advisor to secretary general of AfCFTA on Private Sector Engagement, Mrs. Cynthia Essonam Gnassingbe and Special Assistant to secretary general of AfCFTA, Mr. Paul Okech, after a meeting of both bodies in Accra, Ghana at the weekend.

• Explore AFREXIM Bank window to fund establishment of African shipping line

The Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) has commenced bilateral talks with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat to strengthen intra-African trade through maritime and other transportation modes.

This was part of the outcome of a meeting between the Secretary General of MOWCA, Dr. Paul Adalikwu and the Secretary General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, in Accra, last week. Both organisations agreed to foster African trading interests.

Adalikwu described the maritime domain as the most potent area for a large volume of trade capable of impacting the economies of coastal states and other proximate countries through land borders.

He reiterated MOWCA’s commitment to a safe, secure and environmentally friendly maritime sector that supports the movement of raw materials, agricultural products and finished goods within and beyond the continent.

According to the MOWCA boss, Africa is strategic to global trade; technology and industrialisation with her enormous endowments, adding the countries in the continent will benefit more from their resources if they strengthen their partnerships.

Adalikwu said the maritime industry in Africa, if properly harnessed with human capital consistently developed, could take 30 million Africans out of poverty yearly, with direct impacts on the entire value chain of agriculture, import, export and manufacturing

The MOWCA secretary general also described shipping as the most cost-effective way of moving cargoes between coastal countries and advised African countries to evolve an efficient port system, featuring faster turn-around time for vessels aided by relevant technology.

He further advised port authorities to emplace an efficient port community system, otherwise called a single window that will integrate state and non-state actors to promote trade transparently.

Adalikwu restated his call for a continent-wide cabotage regime that would provide preferential investment and job opportunities in the maritime industry for Africans within the continent, in a borderless manner with relaxed tariff and tax holidays.

He also recalled MOWCA’s confidence-building visits to some member states where the idea of dry ports and rail systems for trans-border cargo movement is at the fore of deliberations, which he said aligns with the AfCFTA vision.

Adalikwu further suggested an impactful maritime component in the AfCFTA charter and assured that MOWCA would give all technical support in achieving this when called upon.

MOWCA, according to Adalikwu, has begun interactions and entered pacts with global bodies like the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), United States and United Kingdom governments to suppress piracy and other forms of maritime insecurity.

He said a safer maritime domain will guarantee trade, enhance predictability, reduce risk and eliminate the high cost of insurance premiums being paid in areas designated as war risk zone in Africa.

On his part, the Secretary General of AfCFTA commended Adalikwu and his team for the offer of technical collaboration, while he assured of a strong working relationship that will reduce trade barriers in the continent.

Mene said AfCFTA would continually work to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, protect intellectual property, respect rules of origin in line with the agreement and work towards harmonised customs procedure.

The AfCFTA boss expressed optimism about positive outcomes from its relationship with MOWCA, while looking forward to more engagements.He promised to fast-track the new relationship with MOWCA by setting up a joint meeting with the AFREXIM Bank leadership to explore funding for the establishment of an African Shipping Line and promote liaison with the African Union in support of MOWCA strategic agenda.

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