An executive council member of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping Stanley Raja Korshie Ahorlu has called for deliberate legislation and policy initiatives that would propel Ghana to the next step of development when it comes to the shipping and maritime industry.
Stanley Ahorlu said there are ongoing trends in the industry, and it is upon government to fashion out deliberate policies and legislation that would guarantee that Ghana benefits from where it has competitive advantage.
He said the shipping supply chain has Ghana giving away too much than she receives, adding that it’s about time Ghana taps into and profit from certain key components within the chain.
Mr. Ahorlu articulated that, “the shipping supply chain has various segments. From the warehouse of the seller to the warehouse to the receiver, everything that goes on between that, is the chain. We are asking which part of the chain we derive value from. We need to identify where we can most effectively play and then focus on that through policy and legislation, through incentive packages and through capacitation of our locals to take advantage of those segments.”
“The 2015 UNCTAD data indicate that the total shipping transport services in Ghana amounted to USD 2.318 billion. Ghana earned only USD 457 million out of that which is approximately 20% of the value of the market. So, this is what we have to bear in mind if we are going to introduce policies or strategize because there is money out there to be made,” he added.
The maritime lawyer and entrepreneur cited how Ghana can leverage its competitive advantage in the bulk cargo business, and crude oil business for example.
Mr. Ahorlu suggested that “COCOBOD having a shipping division that enters into the export of cocoa is a way to start. Same for our bauxite and manganese. The liquid bulk carriage of our crude is also an example. It is not inconceivable that well-operating TOR could have been doing finished products with its own ships. It doesn’t necessarily have to acquire them. They could chatter and by chattering you create brokerage. Can GNPC also have a shipping division that can leverage offshore vessels. That is also an example. These alone can create other jobs in the chain.”
He opined that, the position of the Chamber is for the introduction and enforcement of a cabotage law, to be addressed from a broader perspective.
“I am saying this because in all the places, the experiment of cabotage legislation hasn’t worked that well. For example, in Nigeria. We have an advantage in that we have the African Free Trade Area which has opened up the opportunity for short sea shipping across the coastline of the African continent. So instead of looking at cabotage from a parochial national point of view, we can look at it from a continental or regional point of view.”
Stanley Ahorlu, who was sharing the perspective of the Chamber on Ghana’s shipping industry on Eye on Port, described Ghana’s shipping and maritime industry as a largely improved one from a decade ago, but said there remains a long road ahead.
He recounted that in 2011 for example, the inadequate infrastructural capacity coupled with inefficiencies in the port clearance chain caused massive delays and difficulties in the maritime trade that consequently contributed to increased cost of goods on the local market.
He said while there has been significant improvement in port infrastructure and supporting automation at the ports, there is still a glaring gap for intermodal transport connectivity within Ghana and across the subcontinent.
Mr Ahorlu also raised concerns on the cost of some shipping service provision in Ghana.
He said, “shipping lines have their agents in Ghana. The expectation is that when you pay for freight for the cargo, thereafter you only have to pay little to nothing. But in Ghana, we have situations where before you take that cargo out of the port, you have to go back to the shipping line and pay some more money. Year on year shippers and freight forwarders have complained. Some of the charges that the agents of the lines charge have no correlation to the services provided.”
Marine cargo insurance
The Executive Council Member of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping also expressed support for the ongoing initiative to have importers procure marine cargo insurance locally.
He said “practically it is better to procure insurance here. Because when the goods arrive here and they are damaged or there are shortfalls, you would want to have access to insurance company or the broker, you make that claim. If your insurance is procured by the seller in his country, he adds his margin, a chunk of our money goes there.”
Touching on the sensitive subject of overstayed uncleared cargoes belonging to state agencies, he said government should take the bold initiative to sell such goods off to rid the ports off congestion.
Stanley Ahorlu said, the Chamber would continue to engage government and industry players on pertinent issues for growth in the sector based on facts.
The Ghana Chamber of Shipping, established in 2018, is dedicated to advocating shipping and maritime industry related issues through research and collaborations with government as well as local and international institutions with the goal of growing the industry through policy direction.
The Chamber boasts of veteran and present industry professionals with a vast experience leading different institutions and organisations in the sector.