The Nigerian Shippersa�� Council (NSC) has advocated a legal framework that will provide for uniform laws and processes among African countries to facilitate trade in the continent.
A�A�A�Making the call when he led an NSC delegation on a courtesy visit, the Executive Secretary, Mr. Hassan Bello, told his counterpart at the Ghana Shippersa�� Authority (GSA) in Accra, Ghana, Ms. Benonita Bismarck, that such legal framework would help eliminate trade barriers in the sub-region.
A�A�A�According to Bello, who also visited the Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Sophia Akuffo, where he solicited her presence at the forthcoming biennial Maritime Seminar for Judges holding in Abuja fromA�July 3 to 5, there is need to introduce the framework to the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC) to begin the processes of uniformity.
A�A�A�a�?The legal framework should have some kind of regularity and uniformity so that there would not be barriers,a�? online maritime platform, Ships and Ports, quoted Bello to say. a�?The whole idea is to start thinking of uniformity of processes, procedures and laws if we want to integrate Africa in trade, and shipping, as you know, is the major thing.
A�A�A�a�?Of what use is it if Ghana, for example, has different rules and in Nigeria we have difficulty in trading? We can forget about western conventions and do our own regional convention.a�?
A�A�A�Bello also stated the need to develop infrastructure in Africa, where there is presently a�?great deficit in infrastructure,a�? noting that a�?trading within African countries is very low (at 14 per cent) compared to other local regions at about 80 per cent.
A�A�A�a�?If we develop the infrastructure, trading in Africa would have great consequences on our respective economies, especially the employment content. Rail connectivity between African countries should be promoted. Nigeria is paying a lot of attention to rail even though it is talking about internal rail.
A�A�A�a�?We have problem of congestion at the port because somehow, we think road should be the only connection to the ports. So, now for every port, there will be rail connection because rail evacuates cargoes at low cost.a�?
A�A�A�He further told Bismarck that the council was championing such projects as truck transit parks and inland dry ports as part of effort to facilitate cargo clearance at Nigerian ports.
A�A�A�Commending the NSC, Bismarck stressed the need for continued collaborating and learning from each other to develop things that will serve the shippers and make them feel their relevance.
A�A�A�Promising to open opportunities for exchange of views between the management staff of both councils, Bismarck called for closer ties among African countries to promote and improve intra trade, stating that from available statistics, Africa buys more from Chine, Europe and America than from each other.
A�A�A�This is a�?because we have not been able to develop our manufacturing base. We are working on that, and to ensure that Ghana and indeed Africa opens its doors to one another so that goods and services can flow easily.a�?