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 2nd 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.