Media practitioners  and organisations   have been enjoined to give greater attention and support to the development of maritime industry in Africa, as the sector is key to the Continent’s efforts of becoming economically independent.

Rector of the Regional Maritime University (RMU) _ Ghana, Mr Alock Asamoah, threw this challenge at members of the maritime media community, in his goodwill speech at the Opening Ceremony of a three day on “International Capacity Building Workshop For Media and Public Relations Executives in the Maritime Industry”, organised by Balm of Gilead Communications with the support of the RMU, from 24 to 26 March 2010 at the Tema campus of the school.

Asamoah explained that the maritime industry in Africa was in sound health in the 1960s up till the 1970s, “however in our bid to industrialise very fast, we lost sight of putting in place the appropriate structures and institutions to enable us compete in an increasingly globalized world”, he said.

The University administrator lamented that rather than the new generation of African leaders build on the legacies of their forbearers like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, they conceded the management of the critical economic sectors like the ports and shipping to non_Africans. “It started with the Europeans, later the Asians and Americans. Today Africa countries are now struggling to remain economically viable despite their huge human and natural endowments.

It is therefore the role of the media to bring up these issues and help galvanise concerted efforts towards the economic liberalisation of Africa”, he stressed.

In his remarks, Registrar of the University, Mr Julius Atikpu, described the institution as one of the few maritime training institutions in Africa certified under the International Standards Organisation (ISO) regulations. The institution he further revealed has also received national accreditations of its owner countries namely; Ghana, The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra_Leone and Cameroun respectively.

Atikpu said the school has over the years developed special courses and training programmes to meet the needs of service users and providers in the industry, just as it is set to support the emerging oil and gas industry in Ghana with specialized short courses. He called on the media to grant more airtime or space to maritime issues, to foster confidence building and boost investment flows into the industry.

Representative of Balm of Gilead Communications, Mr Lanre Badmus, in his welcome remarks said due to the dynamic nature of the maritime industry, it is expedient that those who report or manage information about the maritime industry should be abreast of new trends in port and shipping administration.

The maritime industry he argued has remained the main facilitator of wealth for most countries of the world, including African countries. “For alot of reasons which we are not unfamiliar with, the development of the industry in Africa has been rather slow and disjointed. Perhaps with better exposure by information managers including the media, to current developments in the industry as well as investment opportunities and trade information, reform initiatives by our national governments would be more impactful.

This essentially is the goal of this workshop he said, “to enhance the knowledge and capacity of media players and information managers in the maritime industry convey the right messages to the public, in a responsible and professional manner”.

The workshop is the first and only training programme in the region for media and public relations executives serving in the industry and according to the organisers is to be a regular feature on the maritime calendar. Its objectives include: exposure to new trends in flag and port state administration; critical appraisal of public private partnerships of maritime infrastructure; review of port and shipping development issues in Africa; relationship management between the media and maritime institutions; and understanding modern communication research tools in maritime reporting.

Faculty for the workshop were drawn for the University and the industry. They include respected Maritime Consultant and Former Rector of University, Capt Aaron Turkson, who presented a paper on Maritime Training, Certification and Manning; _ Head of the University’s Department of Port and Shipping Development, Mrs Joana Botchway, who presented a paper on Ship Financing, Marine Insurance, P & I Clubs activities; and a Senior Lecturer in the school Mr S.O. K. Yeboa, who lectured on Modern Ship Management Techniques.

Others resource persons also from the Port and Shipping Development  Department of the school are Mr Alfred Ofori_Abebrese, who gave an Overview on World Trade and Economic Issues,  Mrs Felicity Ankoma_Sey, who spoke on Public Private Participation in Port and Shipping Infrastructure Developments  and Mr Richard Fiadamor, who provided fresh insights on Research Methodologies in Maritime News Reporting.  Barrister Josephine Nkrumah, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Association of Stevedoring Companies, gave a presentation on Maritime Arbitration and Dispute Resolutions Strategies.

The training workshop aside the classroom lectures also include review of case studies and visit to maritime establishments like the Tema Port, the country’s premier seaport and main gateway. The next edition of the workshop is scheduled for May 2010.


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