Business News of 2014-04-15

Maritime industry lacks broad policy

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers' Authority (GSA), Dr Kofi Mbiah, is advocating a comprehensive policy framework for the maritime trade and transport industry in the country.

The policy, he said, should integrate the various segments of the industry, while taking into consideration the long-term vision of the country for maritime trade and transport.

While admitting that there already existed "some bits and pieces of policy here and there" on maritime trade and transport, Dr Mbiah told the Daily Graphic that the burgeoning nature of the industry required that the country mapped out its vision for the industry in a comprehensive policy framework.

That policy, he said, could then be relied upon for a robust and sustainable future development of the maritime sector.

"I'm looking at a comprehensive, integrated, total maritime trade and transport policy; one that takes cognisance of the complementarity of the modes, the deep technological penetration permeating various fields of the industry and the specialised human capital needed to position the industry as a key driver to economic transformation of the country,” he said.

He questioned; ”can we, for instance, say that ship building or ship repair or ownership of tonnage is one of our critical policy thrusts as a country and if so what are the building blocks for the attainment of such a goal.”

These, he said, should guide the country to map out its entire coastline and delineate areas for fishing, tourism and pleasure, exploitation of hydrocarbons and the development of ports.

Consultations

He, however, explained that the development of the policy required a wider consultation with the various stakeholders in the industry to ensure that it stood the test of time.

"Mind you, it must fit into a national policy vision and be able to stand the test of time. For that to happen, you have to bring the various stakeholders together to share views and opinions and crystalise those views into something that can get the buy of all the stakeholders," the Shippers' Authority CEO, who is the current Chairman of the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), added.

Industry in perspective

The maritime industry consists of businesses and professions ranging from carriage of freight stevedoring, freight forwarding, customs brokerage and fishing to sea ferrying and to marine railway activities.

Here in Ghana, the technical aspects of the industry is regulated by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), which is mandated to monitor, regulate and coordinate activities within the country's maritime industry.