The fight against global climate change remains a top agenda for the International Maritime Organisation, the United Nations specialised agency for the maritime industry.
As such, Africa’s maritime industry has been urged to join the green shipping bandwagon for the environmental and economic benefits going green presents. Not only is Africa being urged to commit to decarbonisation efforts, but African authorities are also being urged to expedite processes to table their concerns in order to achieve a smooth transitioning process.
Speaking on the Eye on Port programme, the Director of Maritime Services at the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Nana Boakye-Boampong, said African leaders must present themselves as a unified front during the negotiation process for the review of the 2018 Initial strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Ships.
“The strategy is due for review this year, and the next couple of months are crucial. So it is imperative that African countries go to the IMO with a common voice and also put on the table the impacts that these things are going to have on the way we do shipping.”
The official from Ghana Maritime Authority disclosed that it is among the reasons his outfit in collaboration with the Danish Maritime Authority under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation convened stakeholders from 20 African maritime administrations in the Green Shipping Conference in Accra recently – to prep them ahead of negotiations.
He revealed that the conference was primarily focused on highlighting the opportunities inherent in Green Shipping for Africa, and brought to bear a number of concerns. These include:
Firstly, the lack of regulatory certainty. Secondly, inadequate finances to undertake research and development. Thirdly, lack of technical and operational capacities. Lastly, deficiencies of Africa’s port infrastructure.
Mr. Boakye-Boampong intimated that it is a matter of necessity for Africa to let its concerns be known so they are factored into future regulations; because “take it or leave it, whatever decisions are taken on the global stage will have an impact on the way we do business. It is imperative that during the negotiations Africa tries to get a good deal for itself”.
This admonition was further echoed by the Director of Climate Change and Green Transition at the Danish Maritime Authority, Jakob Haugaard, who explained that going green presents vast economic opportunities for Africa – in addition to the environmental benefits.
“We believe that the green transitioning of shipping can help unlock investments in renewable energy, because once you know the demand is there you will also have more investments in the production of renewable energy. Also, investments in energy-efficiency in infrastructure for zero-emission fuels. These are important first steps that can not only mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also create green jobs. There is a good business case for Africa,” he noted.
He said for Africa to match up with its developed counterparts in the green shipping initiative, the continent should take into consideration good framework conditions for private investments in port infrastructure.
“You need infrastructure capable of providing new alternative fuels, which takes a long time to be ready. You need bunkering infrastructure; you need onshore power supply to be a part of new green corridors. That’s very important.”
He stated that Denmark, a country passionate about being a leader in sustainability, has been implementing its own measures to promote green shipping. A lot of these hinge on strong public-private partnerships.
According to him, the Danish Maritime Authority influences and approves new designs of vessels capable of running on zero-emission fuels.
He said the government of Denmark has also come up with tax reforms that apply taxes on carbon emissions from all industries.
In that same vein, subsidies have been applied for the electrification of domestic ferries to encourage eco-friendliness.
Mr. Haugaard, like Nana Boakye-Boampong, said considering the peculiar situation of Africa, African governments must avail themselves in discussions at the IMO-level to influence decisions which cater to the continent’s needs.
Nana Boakye-Boampong disclosed that in July 2022 a fund was established to assist Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States participate in ongoing negotiations. In addition, embedded in the medium-term measures of the Initial strategy on the Reduction of GHG Emissions is the introduction of a fund expected to rake in about US$60billion on a yearly basis. This money is expected to be channeled into assisting transitional measures for Least Developed Countries and the Small Island Developing States.
Mr. Boakye indicated that what’s important in this case is that Africa must go and table its needs during the discussions, so that it will be adequately represented during disbursement of this fund.