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WIMAfrica Conference: Stakeholders seek improvement in key drivers of trade facilitation in Africa

President of WIMAfrica, Mrs. Jean Chiazor-Anishere
Stakeholders
who converged on Monday at the 2
nd Continental Conference and Annual
General Meeting of the Women in Maritime Africa (WIMAfrica) in Eko Hotel and
Suites, advocated the need for infrastructural development and other elements as
key for trade facilitation in Africa.

The New President of WIMAfrica, Jean Chiazor-Anishere embracing her predecessor, Madam Rosa Sobrinho after she was sworn in on Monday at the WIMAfrica 2nd Continental Conference in Lagos.  

The
various speakers, who made their contributions guided by the theme  “Trade Facilitation
for African Integration: Prospects and challenges” noted that there were
threats to elements that facilitate trade within the continent, and part of
their recommendations for addressing the challenges include building critical
infrastructure such as road network, railways connecting ports and the
hinterlands as well as effective storage facilities.

Delivering the lead paper titled “Trade Facilitation as
a Tool for Economic Growth”, Dr. Kofi Mbiah, the Chief Executive of the Ghana
Shippers council, noted that the part of the challenges affecting trade
facilitation in Africa include 
Complex customs and administrative procedures/regulations, Inefficient
and costly transit systems as evidenced by numerous informal roadblocks
(checkpoints) along trade corridors, Lack of harmonisation of trade procedures,
standards, regulations and documentation.”
He,
however, recommended that such challenges could be addressed through “
Better
border and customs management, Improvements in trade and transport
infrastructure, Open and competitive markets in logistics and service sectors, Harmonized
technical, product and safety standards in the sub- region.

“Availability of information about requirements and
enforcement procedures,
Quick Port
turnaround time, Speedy delivery of cargo,
Competitive Port costs, efficient cargo handling, good customer service, good Transit
Infrastructure, Good security, Availability of Intermodal links – rail networks,
Efficient Human Resource.”

Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority,
Hadiza Bala Usman, in a goodwill message, called for a framework that suites
the demands for effective movement of cargo in the continent, as well as
removal of everything that obstructs trade facilitation.

She
said: “The continent is mostly an emerging economy and for us to be competitive,
impediments to trade at both regional and international levels need to be
eliminated. 
 With globalization and its associated trade liberalization, there
must be an African framework targeted in enhancing the conveyance of cargoes
and the quality of logistics in a more predictable manner.
In
his contributions, Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council,
Otunba
Kunle Folarin, also talked on the need to rebuild the dilapidated
infrastructure and improve the
logistics chain
for trade integration.

In
like manner, Mrs. Juliana Gunwa, the Managing Director of Mattisea Maritime Services
ltd., said dilapidated infrastructure such as the port access roads remained a constraint
on trade facilitation.

She
also mentioned lack of transparency in documentation processes in trade matters
as a challenge to trade facilitation.
According
to Gunwa, a big problem faced in trade within the continent is the lack of effective
storage facilities captured in trade policies, and the situation have continued
to cause waste of food produce.

While
Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, the Chief Executive of Morbod Group and Chairman
Shipowners Forum in Nigeria, encouraged women to be confident to drive to their
goals in their chosen area of the maritime industry, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, Secretary
General of the Abuja MoU, support free trade to increase jobs and create
multiple choices.

High-point
of the event was the swearing in of the new President of WIM Africa, Mrs. Jean
Chiazor-Anishere by Mrs Monica Mbanefo, a highly respected lawyer who had
worked as legal adviser in several ministries including the ministry of
transportation, and at the International Maritime Organisation as Technical
Director.
Mrs
Chiazor-Anishere takes over from Madam Rosa Sobrinho.

OnepageAfrica
reports that WIM Africa members came from several African countries including Togo,
Benin Republic, Ghana, Cameroun, South Africa.


The
keynote address was delivered by the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr.
Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.

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