Business News of Tuesday, 1 August 2017
The West and Central African Coastal Shipping Link (Sealink Project) is likely to begin operations along the West African coastline from first quarter of next year.
It will be dedicated to plying the West and Central Africa sea routes.
The project is a Federation of West Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry initiative, in collaboration with the NEXIM Bank of Nigeria and Transimex of Cameroon, with support from the ECOWAS Commission, and would be spearheaded by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), the umbrella body of business operators, firms and industries in Ghana.
When completed, the shipping line would provide businesses with the easy route of transporting their goods to other countries in the West African sub-region.
The President of the GNCCI, Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso I, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on the sidelines of the 41st annual general meeting of the chamber (on July 26) in Accra that preparations for the setting up of the shipping lines were far advanced.
“The project has received massive support from the ECOWAS Commission. The project is currently at the investment phase and investors are being encouraged to buy shares in the project.”
He said each share was selling for US$0.70 and the minimum number of shares an investor could buy was 20,000 shares.
He added that all chambers within the West African Sub-Region have agreed to buy minimum shares of US$14,000 in the project.
He said currently, there was no direct shipping line to the West African sub-region and, as such, businesses which resorted to using the seas to transport their goods often delayed, since the cargos went through Europe before reaching their destinations in West Africa.
“Indeed, we are aware of the enormous benefits that coastal shipping service can have in the socio-economic development of our economies,” he said and added that the GNCCI was playing a key role in the establishment of that shipping line.
“The shipping line, when completed, would have both cargo and passenger sections, while warehouses would also be constructed at each port for easy shipment.”
“It would also promote trade and investment in the West African sub-region, as well as reduce the dangers and frustrations associated with the use of road transport,” he said.
Invitation of bid
The GNCC and its partners earlier this year invited bids from private investors to help establish the new regional shipping line which would serve the West African coastline.
Promoters of the initiative were looking for about US$60 million to finance the cost of the vessels and set up other required infrastructure to enable the new shipping line, which is under the name, Sealink Promotional Company Limited, to commence operations.
Starting with two ships
But Nana Dankawoso observed that about 80 per cent of the preparations of establishing the Sealink Project had been done.
“Before the close of this year it is our hope that we will be able to buy two ships in order to start the project next year,” he added.
He explained that since 2015, the chamber has been very actively involved as promoters in a project called Sealink maritime transport project.
He said the project was focused on the establishment of a Regional Coastal Maritime Shipping line (RCMSL) that would interconnect the West and Central Africa States with cabotage services.
“This will support private sector initiative in the provision of efficient sea transport services to reduce the cost of transporting goods. The objective of this project is to strengthen the implementation of the community protocol on the free movement of persons and the right of establishment in order to facilitate maritime integration by promoting trade within and between West and Central Africa.”