STAKEHOLDERS in port management and policymakers in Africa are exploring ways to reshape policy and harness benefits that accrue from maximising the comparative advantages of landlocked countries.
Participants met in Livingstone, Zambia recently to discuss this during a caucus meeting organised by the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA).
The association seeks to uphold the role and competitive advantage of dry ports and inland waterways within the region to drive intra-Africa trade and regional integration with the aim of reducing the cost of doing business.
In this context, Zimbabwe through the Road Motor Services is building a dry port in Walvis Bay, Namibia and the facility is expected to start operating next year.
In a statement, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) said the meeting targets land linked countries as key facilitators of trade, investments and development of the maritime sector in East and Southern Africa.
Addressing the delegates, PMAESA chairperson Mr Gerson Bisey Uirab who is also the Namibian Ports Authority chief executive officer described land-linked countries as part of the architecture of the maritime sector, which must be fully integrated.
“The maritime sector offers several opportunities and a future that can support the transformation of African economies.
“However, this demands that the region develops a comprehensive view of what the maritime sector could be and what it could offer,” he said.
The caucus meeting whose theme was “Raising the profile of land linked countries in the logistics and maritime value chains” provided an opportunity to discuss in detail and reshape the policy, said Comesa.
In recent years, the PMAESA meeting has revised its approach to focus on the total value chain in response to global competition. The organisation was founded in 1973 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to promote and nurture best practices among sea ports and the logistical industry in general.
It is an inter-governmental body comprising port authorities, terminal operators, government line ministries, logistics and maritime service providers drawn from 25 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with 11 land-linked countries under its jurisdiction.