West African Chamber of Shipping(WACS): Unfolding!

Nigeria Chamber of Shipping and Ghana Chamber of Shipping held its first formal meeting to discuss the proposed West Africa Chamber of Shipping at Marriott Hotel Accra, on September 27, 2018. The idea of having a regional Chamber was mooted by the President of the Nigeria Chamber of Shipping, Mr. Andy Isichei during the inauguration of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping in March 2018.

The NCS was represented at the meeting by the President, Mr. Andy Isichei and the Director General Ms. Obiageli Obi. The President in his address not only highlighted the Vision and Mission of the proposed regional Chamber, but also stated the underlining objectives for the formation of such ranging from the promotion and harmonization of maritime activities at the West African region, to creating a legacy of unity among member states in the West African inter regional trade.

The core objectives of WACS as mutually agreed to by member states are stated below:

  • Set up the platform to synthesize several inhibiting issues in the West African maritime domains and collaborate on a way forward.
  • Harmonize the legal regimes across West African nations in Cabotage operations.
  • Domestication of trade agreements and Conventions.
  • Enhance coastal shipping trade across the ECOWAS region.
  • Monitor port performances across regional port to ensure benefits for local entrepreneurs, investments in technology, training and advocate sanctioning for non-performance.
  • Advocate for concession on tariffs for berth dues and transshipment of cargoes, port charges, etc. for member states to enhance regional trade.
  • Increase regional tonnage and ship cluster that will lead to the creation of a West African P & I Club.
  • Enhance environmental protection and the blue economy.

Based on the above objectives and the synergy expected to be created among member states, WACS is expected to put in place the right mechanism to:

  1. Reduce if not ameliorate completely, foreign domination of maritime business in West Africa
  2. Provide cheaper and accessible funding needed for the growth and development of maritime operations across the region.
  3. Build needed capacities to strengthen local laws that will always ensure compliance and apply sanctions where need be for effective and efficient regional maritime space in line with best global practice.
  4. Establish an advocacy team across member states to facilitate relevant issues geared towards speedy growth and effective realization of the goals and objectives of WACS.

As a way of speeding up the process of formation of WACS, a six-member steering committee constituted to create a legal and operational framework for the regional Chamber coupled with achievable goals and objectives met in Lagos on October 19, 2018, and decided on the following among others:

  1. Drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a draft charter between the founding legacy partners- Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) and Ghana Chamber of Shipping (GCS)
  2. That NCS should seek a space for the secretariat of WACS at the PMAWCA facility in Apapa Lagos Nigeria and coordinators for the initial administration the secretariat to be jointly provided by the legacy partners.
  3. That the funding of the initial operations of WACS will be borne by the legacy partners.

Following from the above resolutions, and as part of timelines set for the actualization of the WACS project, Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL) was contracted to prepare an MOU between NCS and GCS as well as the Draft Charter of the West Africa Chamber of Shipping; the process of which had been completed and awaiting execution by both legacy partners.

In attendance at the meeting were the NCS Board members and partners (Abuja MOU) led by the President Mr. Andy Isichei while the GCS team was led by Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Mbiah.