Maritime transport: The DEPF outlines the challenges facing Africa's Atlantic seaboard

Morocco's Department of Economic Studies and Financial Forecasting (DEPF) said that maritime transport in Africa has developed to the point where it can support the transformation and restructuring of the African economy.

The DEPF published the information in a September publication entitled "Maritime transport of goods in the Atlantic coast of Africa".

Africa's quest for regional and international integration has led the continent's countries to put in place programmes and strategies aimed at laying the foundations for a developed and integrated Africa, where African people and economies take full advantage of the wealth of opportunities the continent has to offer,, a website specialising in maritime issues, reported.

This is evidenced by the recent creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTAA), which aims to build an integrated space for wealth creation, allowing both to mobilize intra-African complementarities and to substantially improve the continent's integration into the globalized system.

Nevertheless, this ambition is facing several obstacles, mainly the obvious deficit in transport infrastructure, which, despite the efforts made, remains the poor relation of economic integration in Africa.

DEPF has divided FAAMAN into three groups. One is Morocco and Nigeria, which stand out in terms of maritime traffic on the Atlantic coast of Africa. The two countries contributed a total of 64% of regional traffic between 2011 and 2016.

In 2018, a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ranked Morocco as the first African country with maritime connections. The report on the continent's top five countries did not include Nigeria.

The second group contributed 29% of West African traffic between 2011 and 2015. It includes Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Togo and Benin.

The third group includes Liberia, Guinea, Mauritania, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, with a total contribution of 7% between 2011 and 2015.

The study also proposed some possible solutions, calling for the strengthening of port and maritime cooperation, partly through the digitisation of ports to improve the quality of their work. This would also involve promoting efficient traffic management through the creation of port clusters to stimulate competition.

It is true that maritime transport is the main driver of world trade, since more than 80% of trade is carried by sea. Africa's contribution to maritime trade remains low, at 5.7% of world maritime traffic in 2017.

This share is out of all proportion to Africa's distinctive assets, with a coastline giving access to three sea fronts (Atlantic, Indian and Mediterranean), bringing together 38 countries (i.e. more than 70% of the continent's countries).

In order to outline the issues surrounding maritime transport as a lever for development and regional and international integration in Africa, this Policy Africa provides an overview of maritime transport in the countries on the Atlantic coast of West Africa from Morocco to Nigeria (FAAMAN).

It aims, in particular, to highlight the main characteristics of maritime traffic within this area, through a comparative analysis of port and maritime performance.

On the basis of the lessons learnt, this Policy Africa has made it possible to sketch out some lines of thought in terms of renewed cooperation approaches to be promoted by the FAAMAN countries, with a view to enabling them to densify their commercial exchanges by sea and make them a lever for accelerating regional and continental economic integration.