Experts in port management, policy makers and financiers from across Africa began a two-day meeting in Zambia to explore how to reshape policy and harness the benefits that accrue from maximizing the comparative advantages of land linked countries.
Organized by the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA), the meeting targets land linked countries as key facilitators of trade, investments and the development of the maritime sector in East and Southern Africa. Zambia’s Vice President Mrs. Inonge Wina opened the meeting.
PMAESA is an intergovernmental body comprising Port Authorities, Terminal Operators, government line ministries, logistics and maritime service providers drawn from 25 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with 11 land-linked countries under its jurisdiction.
Addressing the delegates, PMAESA Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Namibian Ports Authority Mr. Gerson Bisey Uirab described land-linked countries as part of the architecture of the maritime sector which must be fully integrated.
“The maritime sector offers several opportunities and a future that can support the transformation of African economies,” Mr Uirab said. “However, this demands that the region develops a comprehensive view of what the maritime sector could be and what it could offer.”
He said the conference, whose theme is; ‘Raising the profile of land linked countries in the logistics and maritime value chains’ provides the opportunity to discuss this in detail and reshape the policy.
The PMAESA meeting has in recent years revised its approach to focus on the total value chain in response to global competition. According to Mr. Uirab, the aim is to address the needs of member countries, including the participation of the private sector to ensure greater collaboration.
Zambia’s Vice President commended the organizers for having the meeting in her land linked country for the first time in the history of PMAESA. This, she added shows that land linked countries like Zambia have been recognized for the key role they can play in maritime transport.
She said: “Hosting this important function is an endorsement of the need to be inclusive in world affairs and will help bridge the gap that landlocked countries face in accessing services of the blue economy.”
COMESA Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Dr Kipyego Cheluget said COMESA was proud to be associated with PMAESA and the 2017 Conference to address diverse issues under Maritime Transport and Logistics.
“I am convinced that solutions and strategies to take the subsector forward will be generated during the conference,” Amb. Cheluget said. “These solutions should essentially contribute towards sustainable transport systems and reduction in the cost of doing business for our region.”
The Head of the Development Bank of Southern Africa Mr Davies Pwele revealed that the institution will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PMAESA to become the preferred financier for the development of port infrastructure in Eastern and Southern Africa.
PMAESA was founded in 1973 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to promote and nurture best practices among sea ports and the logistical industry in general. It promotes the role and competitive advantage of dry ports and inland waterways within the region to drive intra-Africa trade and regional integration with the aim of reducing the cost of doing business.