Plagued by low sources of revenue in their economies, African maritime stakeholders are meeting in Mombasa, Kenya to look into ways the industry could add to national revenue base.
Key debate issue on the first day revolved around whether Africa should adopt an open or closed ship registry system. While maritime experts and industry players yearn for an open form of registry, viewed as a means to boost the number of ships in the continent, hence revenue from taxation, government representatives at the meeting were however cautious. Nancy Karigithu, Director General, Kenya Maritime Authority said in East Africa, pirates have used the 20 years of anarchy existing in Somalia to terrorise vessels plying in the Indian Ocean. She is however optimistic that with the recent routing of the al-Shabaab militia from Somalia by the African Union forces with the support of the international community, the Gulf of Aden that bore the brunt of piracy will stablise and allow the growth of sea trade.
Magnus T. Addicu, President of the Accra-based African Maritime Policy Advisory Centre, said while crooks used the weaknesses that has existed in an open registry system to perpetrate piracy, things are changing now. “Gone are the days when any one would just come in, register their vessel and disappear. Maritime authorities now respond to this anomaly in a way that assures security and safety,” he said. Karigithu added that the international maritime organization is also empowering inspectors at various ports of call in the region to make sure adherence to international standards on safety and security of vessels.
The move by IMO however is hampered by low legal capacity in the continent. In Kenya for example out of 46 insurance companies, only five offer maritime insurance and in Cameroon, less than five lawyers and a magistrate have training in maritime law
Article written by Henry Neondo, courtesy of Marine Link.