Marrakech, 24 March 2019 (ECA) – A panel of senior African officials and blue economy experts taking part in the 8th North Africa Development Forum (NADF) held on Saturday 23 March, called upon ECA to help step up coordination between major African ports, with a view to enhancing their competitiveness.
On the eve of African Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) ratification, this move will help contribute to the creation of a virtuous circle between maritime connectivity and intra-African trade.
This year’s edition of the NADF was held on the margins of the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, and focused on the economic potential of blue economy and its integration into African development policies and strategies.
A relatively new concept, the blue economy combines responsible and sustainable uses of aquatic and marine resources with the harnessing of their economic potential.
"The maritime transport sector presents a major challenge for the blue economy in the Mediterranean, one of the most active seas in the world, with 20% of global maritime trade, 10% of container transit and more than 200 million passengers" said ECA Director for North Africa, Lilia Hachem Naas in her opening speech. "Our reflection aims to lay down the foundation for a strategic regional approach to make shipping and its ancillary services a pole of sustainable development and decent jobs for young people and vulnerable populations," she added.
During the meeting, participants examined the wide range of blue economy activities (shipping, fishing, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, etc.), as well as its social, ecological and urban dimensions.
"The blue economy is a cross cutting concept, which involves many sectors such as fisheries, transport and agriculture. Coordination and planning are therefore key in making progress. The blue economy is an important channel to attain Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) as it also includes the economic and social dimensions," said Ahmed Kamaly, Egyptian Deputy Minister of Planning (Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform).
This call for cooperation was concurred by Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Djibouti: "South-South cooperation is essential in the maritime field and for logistics because, in addition to ports, hinterlands require costly structures that multiply merchandise mobility such as the electric railway between Ethiopia and Djibouti, one of the most important investments of Africa ".
In the case of Morocco, Khalid Cherkaoui, Secretary General of the Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Logistics and Water, said that "the activity of the maritime transport in Morocco is a pillar of national foreign trade and a strategic vector of the national economy. 98% of the country's foreign trade travels by sea and Morocco ranks first in Africa and 17th worldwide in terms of maritime connectivity.
With 100,000 ships passing through the Strait of Gibraltar every year, and port traffic expected to rise to 300 million tons by 2030 against 92 million in 2010 in Morocco and the Suez Canal already hosting one quarter of the world's ship traffic, Africa seems to have a promising future in maritime trade.
However, despite these high figures, participants lamented that intra-African trade remains among the lowest in the world, partly because of lack of transportation. Currently, it is cheaper to export containers from Africa to China than from one African country to another, hence the need for more concerted policies and enhanced cooperation between the main African ports.
This event was held with the participation of Sanae Elamrani, Deputy Director at the Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Logistics and Water of the Kingdom of Morocco, Layla El Saeed of the Arab Academy for science, technology and maritime transport, Guellil Djillali, Head of the Information Center for Maritime and Port Safety and Security at the Algerian Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Jérémie Fosse, Eco-Union President and Director of the Global Eco Forum and Pierre Failler, Professor of Economics at the University of Portsmouth and an international expert on blue economy governance.
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Tel: +251 11 551 5826