Amid the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there have been disruptions in global trade. As COVID-19 continues to cause panic among nations all across the world, it is of utmost importance that countries like Ghana adhere to safety measures and remain calm. Not downplaying potential effects of the virus’s spread and its implications, it is vital to think of the industry-related implications COVID-19 is likely to pose both now and after the pandemic.
Placing more emphasis on the Ghana maritime industry, we are overwhelmed by the excellent directives issued by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) to contain spread of the COVID-19 virus. Specifically, the GMA has directed all seaports to prevent any ship whose crew is suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 from entering the country. With the world facing grim prospects of a major economic meltdown, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is keen to avoid large-scale disruption of trade and supply of essential goods.
Nevertheless, as measures are being taken to combat and/or reduce the spread of COVID-19 to an appreciable level, what is the future of the Ghana maritime industry? Against this backdrop, we postulate: Is there need for a national maritime policy? If yes, what are the economic benefits Ghana is likely to gain from the implementation of a national maritime policy?
Acknowledging the colossal effort GMA plays in the maritime industry, in 2019 GMA called for a Maritime Transport Policy (MTP) to effectively address regulatory and safety issues. The MTP emerged on the premise that maritime transportation is a prime mover of trade, coupled with the assertion that maritime transportation is also considered to be the most cost-effective transport option worldwide. Buttressing the earlier assertion that MTP is a prime mover of trade, it is estimated that approximately 80% of global trade by volume and over 70% of global trade by value are carried by sea and handled by ports worldwide.
Irrespective of the amazing policy pronouncements made by the GMA, the Ghana maritime industry still faces numerous regulatory, security, infrastructure, and pollution-prevention strategies. The question that arises here is: Are these immense propositions mere policy pronouncements with zero-evidence of their implementation?
For years, the Maritime Trade Department (MTD) in the United States (U.S.) and its allies were demanding a national maritime policy. Referring to the 2014 Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, which specifically paved the way for enactment of national maritime policy, the U.S. maritime industry employs more than 260,000 Americans – providing nearly US$29billion in annual wages and with more than 40,000 commercial vessels currently flying the American flag.
The vast majority of those vessels are engaged in domestic commerce, moving more than 100 million passengers and US$400billion worth of goods between ports in the U.S. on an annual basis. Each year, the U.S. maritime industry accounts for more than US$100billion in economic output. With substantial evidence that the U.S. maritime industry contributes to economic growth, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) took the lead in crafting national policy. MarAd has held numerous meetings to gather information from industry officials, including several MTD affiliates.
Using the U.S. maritime industry’s economic output as a reference case scenario, we can boldly assert that crafting a national maritime policy helps preserve and strengthen our nation’s maritime industry. A well-integrated national maritime policy is important for Ghana’s economy and vital to national security. As citizens of the country aiming to contribute our quota to development of the Ghana maritime industry, the Centre for International Maritime Affairs (CIMAG) team – with years of critical thinking into the maritime sector – has developed a framework that Ghana’s national maritime policy can dwell on (see below).
Source: CIMAG 2019
The team-members of CIMAG are of the utmost conviction that developing a maritime policy which hinges on the above framework will be a good step to sustainability for the maritime sector. We indicate that discussions with stakeholders in the maritime sector can help enrich the already developed policy proposals created. The national maritime policy will be beneficial to all industry players in the maritime industry.
ALBERT DERRICK FIATUI is the Executive Director at the Centre for International Maritime Affairs (CIMAG). He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Development Studies from the University of Development Studies. He holds an LLB (Law) from the Mountcrest University College and a postgraduate certificate in Health Safety & Environment. He holds also a certificate of proficiency in Customs procedures & port operations. Currently, Albert is a Director in charge of Business Development at the Logical Maritime Services Limited, a privately-held global logistics company. With extensive research, policy and advocacy backgrounds’, Albert serves on numerous boards within the maritime industry.
BISMARK AMEYAW (Ph.D.) is the director of research and advocacy at the Centre for International Maritime Affairs (CIMAG). He is also a doctoral researcher at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China and a referee to several prestigious peer-review journals. He specialises in modleling and forecasting the dynamic links in energy, economics, and the environment. He also takes a keen interest in the Ghana maritime industry. He writes, teaches and consults on energy and maritime-related issues. He serves as an editorial board member and a reviewer for several Zone A academic journals.