, DURBAN, South Africa, Nov 8 – Africa is moving towards a harmonised maritime transport charter that will apart from building trade capacity see a united approach to industry threats such as piracy.
This follows the adoption of the African Maritime Transport Charter at the Second African Union Conference of Ministers Responsible for Maritime Transport, under the theme "Creation of a safe, secure and clean maritime transport industry," held in Durban, South Africa.
Kenya was represented at the high profile conference by Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transport Dr Cyrus Njiru and the Director General of the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Nancy Karigithu.
Mrs Karigithu said the adoption of the charter would boost the maritime sector in Africa and propel the continent towards world class shipping and maritime trade standards.
"As a continent we must take the firm view that we cannot talk maritime transport outside of economic development and growth of the sector. The maritime transport sector in Africa is a giant that is waking up. African maritime transport has the capacity to grow our economies and create millions of jobs," said Karigithu in a telephone interview.
The meeting was officially opened by South Africa’s Transport Minister Dr Sibusiso Ndebele.
In East Africa for instance, the maritime industry contributes to about 95 percent of the total international trade attracting attention as to why the sector needs to be developed.
Representatives from 36 member states, regional economic communities, European Union, African and International Organizations took part in the conference.
The aim of the symposium was to consider and adopt the Draft African Maritime Transport Charter and consider the status of the implementation of the Plan of action on maritime transport.
To this end, the ministers participating in the talks considered the Draft African Maritime Transport Charter and the Draft Resolution on Maritime, Security, Safety and Protection of the Marine Environment in Africa.
The ministers urged the African Union Commission to establish the mechanism to monitor the implementation of the charter so as to speed up its enforcement and inclusion in the national legislations.
The ministers expressed their satisfaction at the work carried out by the experts of member states towards harmonisation of maritime laws.
The conference expressed concern about the meteoric increase in acts of piracy and armed robbery perpetrated against ships off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulfs of Aden and of Guinea.
Also discussed were the effects of pollution of the marine environment by unscrupulous ship operators.
The Ministers reaffirmed to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the sub regional organizations working in the maritime sector and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) their role in the implementation of the various activities contained in the plan of action.