The country needs to take a strong position on local content in the maritime transport sector, especially in view of the huge youth unemployment situation, Daniel Nii Kwatei Titus-Glover, Deputy Minister of Transport, has indicated.
“We don’t mean to sabotage foreign participation in the sector, but rather want to welcome partnerships that will accrue to the benefit of Ghanaians in the forms of enhanced efficiency, knowledge-transfer and skill-capacities.”
Mr. Titus-Glover was addressing a roundtable conference on ‘Creating values in the maritime transport industry through local content policies’, organised by the Ghana Chamber of Shipping in Accra.
Discussions at the conference centred on the development of a sound and comprehensive local content policy in the maritime and allied services sector.
Mr. Titus-Glover said the maritime sector already contributes enormously to the national economy by way of impex taxes and job creation, but a strong local content policy could help better the lot of unemployed youth.
According to captains of the industry, activity areas such as shipbuilding and repairs, container repairs, fisheries, port infrastructure, recreational boating, ship chandelling, freight forwarding, ships agency, inland navigation and tourism, among others, offer strong opportunities and space for local content.
To the deputy transport minister, aspects of the industry wherein Ghanaians have the expertise to handle – for instance the movement of goods to other parts of the country – could be reserved for them.
Business Development Minister Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal- backing the need for local participation in the buoyant blue economy – remarked that with over 80 percent of the country’s international trade carried by sea, the maritime sector is a major contributor to GDP.
He indicated that the ports, being the pivot around which the industry revolves, also serve as collection points for government revenue.
“By deduction, if we are to be in control of the commanding heights of our economy, such a significant sector deserves enough local participation,” he emphasised.
But he also cautioned: “In seeking an infusion of local content into the maritime sector, we should be mindful not to sacrifice competitiveness for Ghanaian participation.
“We need to build the requisite structures, capacities and have the required financing capabilities to make the policy implementation effective.”
The roundtable conference pooled seasoned practitioners in the maritime transport sector to discuss the drafting and implementation of a binding policy that will enhance local participation in the interest of the country’s development.
The Ghana Chamber of Shipping’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kofi Mbiah, in his remarks emphasised the need for a well-grounded and comprehensive policy that will guide the participation of locals in the maritime transport business.
“At this roundtable, we seek to begin putting together the building blocks for a potent and pragmatic local content policy that will shape the future of the maritime industry.
“If one considers the key role of the maritime transport sector, then it becomes imperative that policies which accrue to the benefit of the extractive sectors should be moulded appropriately to deal with sectors which have the potential of affecting our economic development paradigm.”
Dr. Mbiah however stressed that ensuring local content in the sector must not engender pessimism or undermine foreign direct investments, but rather reflect a win-win content policy that can be adopted to harness the potentials of both parties.