Captain Etoenyo Onassis Bankas, General Secretary, Ghana Merchant Navy Officers Association (GMNOA) noted that Ghana’s economy was growing and the demand for maritime shipping was likely to increase steadily.
"This is hindering the unlocking of Ghana’s Maritime economic potential, and thus the low level of employment of Ghanaians in the Maritime sector,” Capt. Bankas stated this during a seminar at the African Unity Auditorium of the Regional Maritime University (RMU) at Nungua in the Greater Accra Region.
The seminar was organized by the GMNOA in collaboration with the Regional Maritime University Alumni Association (RMUAA) which was on the theme: “Your Place in the Maritime Labour Market," as monitored by the Communication for Development and Advocacy Consult (CDA Consult) at Nungua.
He said the association seek to bring the maritime market to light to whet the investment appetite of public and private sector organizations to invest more into businesses in the maritime market.
Dr Kofi Mbiah former Chief Executive of Ghana Shipper’s Authority called for a comprehensive national maritime policy to guide the maritime industry beyond maritime territorial sovereignty and ownership rights.
“Beyond cabotage, we have to have a national maritime policy to guide local content, employment generation, labour, legal issues, oil and gas, clean beaches; and for the life of the mariner or seafarer after retirement from active service.” Dr Mbiah said, explaining “Cabotage is right to operate sea, air, or other transport services within a particular territory”.
Dr Mbiah, who is also currently Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping, in a lecture and a panel discussion, stressed that Ghana must develop and adopt a comprehensive national maritime policy that goes beyond cabotage, and new legislation and review of regulation.
Dr Mbiah who is also a Maritime Law and Management Expert called for
massive investment in the maritime industry and value chain activities in the blue economy as he explained that there was the need to take more advantage of the marine and water resources of the earth because water covered two-thirds of the earth’s surface, and land a third.
Among the area, he identified for more investment are research, hospitality and recreation, husbandry, defence and environmental development and protection, which he said should be guided by a national maritime policy.
Dr Mbiah however wondered why many people would not go into research despite the advent of the Internet and other modern research tools, systems and mechanisms.
He called for the development of technologies and skills for current and emerging opportunities in the maritime industry; “Levels of efficiency must go up,” Dr Mbiah stressed.
Dr Jethro Brook, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Regional Maritime University (RMU) also reiterated the need for collaboration between the institution and all necessary and potential industry actors to create opportunities in the maritime industry for national development.
According to him, this would unravel avenues toward ending the high level of unemployment drastically.
Dr Brook encouraged Ghanaian seafarers to embrace and support the GMNOA agenda and urged every alumnus of the University to be interested hence getting involved in the activities of RMUAA as the associations play crucial roles in the development and continued existence of the University.
Representatives from Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority, Ghana Shippers Authority, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, the Ghana Maritime Authority, and the Ministry of Labour.
Others from the private sector were: Kudu Logistics, COSCO Shipping, Bernard Schulte Marine Services, Tullow, Enterprise Life, Assure Trustee, Masser-Afrique, NUSPAW- TUC, Members of the RMUAA, Members of the GMNOA, students of RMU among others attended the seminar.