By Geofrey Bivbere
Minister of Transport Alh. Ibrahim Isa Bio, has said that the problem of shortage of funds hindering involvement of local operators in maritime sector of the nationâ€™s economy will soon be addressed with the establish-ment of the expected regional Maritime Development Bank for Maritime Organizations of West and Central African States (MOWCA) to be sited in Nigeria.
Bio, while speaking at the opening of a 3-day meeting of experts and stakeholders on the establishment of the regional Maritime Develop-ment Bank in Abuja, said that the establishment of the bank would eliminate funding problems in the sector ranging from ports development and operations, ship building and acquisitions, ship repairs, Marine Safety, Environmental protection, among others.
In a press statement signed by the Deputy Director (Press) of the Ministry, Kingsley Agha, the Minister said the bank would â€œprovide a solid framework for transit transport development in the region.
â€œIndeed, such a bank will be a source of shoring up funds for developmental projects and services as against retail banking for the sub-region.â€
The Minister urged experts at the meeting to work assiduously within the confines of acceptable best practices and provide a solid framework for the bank to commence operations.
He further said that Nigeriaâ€™s resolve to open up frontiers for global economic develop-ment, as embodied in Mr. Presidentâ€™s 7-Point Agenda and indeed in consonance with the vision 2020 grand National norm and the ECOWAS conventions is mostly anchored on the maritime and transport sectors which are critical to our globalÂ approach and drive for Africaâ€™s economic integration.
He enjoined the Committee of Experts not to betray the confidence of MOWCA General Assembly of Ministers who conceived the noble project.
Speaking earlier, the Secretary General of MOWCA, Magnus Teye Addico, also identified lack of financial capacity and technical support as key obstacles to the development of the maritime industry in Africa, which accounts for the less than 1% supply of tonnage of Africaâ€™s share in the world. This is also why Africa cannot adequately compete in the supply of shipping services in our ports, and the supply of multi-modal transport services is still lacking in our sub region.
Addico said the bank would strengthen regional infrastruc-tural base for ensuring efficiency of maritime transport services.Â It will assist member-countries to establish effective coastguard and help MOWCA to network these coastguards in a sub-regional Coastguards Network.
Chairman of the organising committee and also Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transport, Mr. Musa Tugga Karam, at the 2003 MOWCA Ministerial Meeting in Congo, said the idea of a Maritime Bank for West and Central African was first received and the consummation is happening today. 8 member States were represented at the meeting.