Report from IBIA in Africa – Mauritius and Ghana
Tahra Sergeant, Regional Manager IBIA in Africa reports that there has been considerable interest from the media in the developments following IBIA’s Forum in Mauritius last year, with several requests for comments and thoughts on the ‘next steps’ from trade journalists.
Mauritius: A Bunker Hub: Driving the Ocean Economy, was held in October and brought together the whole bunkering community in Mauritius – storage, port, banking, insurance, suppliers. Organised by IBIA at the invitation of the government, the objective was to analyse where Mauritius and the Indian Ocean communities could fit into the larger bunker scene.
The Government of Mauritius has set its sights on a 25-year plan to develop Port Louis into a global bunkering hub capable of supplying 1 million metric tons of bunker fuel and employing 25,000 people across the marine industry.
Following its investment to enable Port Louis to cater for increasing volumes of container traffic and ever larger box-ships, the Mauritius Ports Authority has hired Royal Haskoning DHV to look into the changes needed to convert Port Louis into an LNG hub.
The Mauritian government has begun to liberalise bunker trade too, by reducing and removing charges and duties, as well as offering a quicker process for issuing bunkering licences and import permits.
However, growing the competency of the local community and building the necessary infrastructure will take time. As part of the event, IBIA representatives explained and promoted the industry to college leavers and students in maritime colleges on the Island, highlighting the skills and potential opportunities that could be available.
The event was very warmly received by members in the region and by local industry and government. It offered real and productive networking opportunities alongside business intelligence, latest industry news and focused industry training. IBIA in Africa will continue to advise and liaise with the Mauritius Government to support the industry’s development in this exciting strategic location.
A similar event is planned to take place in May, 2016, when IBIA in Africa launches its Basic Bunkering Course and Lunch event in Ghana, Africa, bringing together external experts and individuals interested in the business opportunities and community benefits that a developing bunker hub can offer.
Ghana has ambitions to be an important maritime location, and is keen to develop its national and international maritime capabilities.
The country is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional economic organisation bringing together a market of 250 million people across West Africa. Formed in 1975, ECOWAS has greatly enhanced intra-regional trade as well as Ghana’s status as an economic force in the sub-region.
Ghana’s trading access to other African nations is expected to increase significantly in the coming years as African nations move toward implementation of the African Economic Community, which will take effect in 2025.
The government’s ongoing privatisation initiatives are also opening up a number of sectors for new business partnerships and investment, notably the banking and the state petroleum and telecommunications sectors.