The nation’s industrialisation and infrastructure development agenda begs the acquisition of a vessel that will help it mobilise the necessary materials needed not only to facilitate economic growth but also make Ghana a maritime hub on the continent, William Amanhyia, Branch Secretary of the Nautical Institute has said.
Acknowledging the huge expenditure in embarking on such a venture, Captain Amanhyia noted that with the hosting of the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), development of railway infrastructure, Ghana, now more than ever, needs to marshal resources or collaborate with the private sector to acquire a vessel for national purposes.
“AfCFTA is great news for the maritime sector, and the nation must do all in its power to boost fortunes of the maritime sector by being the first African country to acquire a vessel for training and trade purposes.
“It is expensive but we can do it. Government has a big vision, for example, with the railway project; we can buy a ship to commute all the materials for our infrastructure and industrialisation initiatives. Now we have the AfCFTA, and that is also coming with some great opportunities on the continent. We keep talking but no one is listening,” Captain Amanhyia told the B&FT in an interview.
Training and employing the youth
He added that the move can help give meaningful remuneration to many Ghanaians since the sector is supervised and regulated by international standards – with the well-being and safety of seafarers being paramount.
“The economy of seafaring is very good, but most people in Ghana do not know about it. That is one of the things we want to change. First of all, seafarers need a training ship. If the Ghana seafaring community gets a training ship, particularly the Regional Maritime University, unemployment will reduce drastically.
“The maritime industry can employ 500-1,000 people every year, but we need to train them. The problem is that nobody wants to train the seafarers, they want people who are already cooked; training the seafarers is very expensive, and that is why the government needs to take the initiative. The only thing they can do is that they should be able to buy a training ship for us,” Captain Amanhyia said.
Cost of vessels
A 500 to 1,000 passenger capacity vessel costs a cruise line about US$394million with a 1,000 to 2,000 passenger vessel costing US$442million; while a ship with space for 2,000 to 3,000 passengers costs an average of US$555million.
“African nations do not understand that seafaring skills have become a strategic asset. Most companies globally want to employ from Africa because the Europeans do not want to go to sea again. Nobody wants to go and spend three months outside living without his family, but we are very lucky that in Africa our family system is okay with it. This is the time we need to take advantage and get the best benefit out of it. We have been talking to governments all over Africa, but they seem not to care,” he lamented.
He added that Africa does not have a training ship. “America has just bought five brand-new ones for the nation and each of them is able to take 600 people; multiply that by five and you realise that they are able to bring out 3,000 seafarers every year; we can do something like this as well, and we want the Ghana Maritime Authority to spearhead the process.”
Meanwhile, B&FT has gathered that the Ghana Navy has begun the process to build some ships locally – but not to the scale for international trade.