West and Central African ports ready to navigate in the AfCFTA era

After four days of intensive debates, the 43rd Annual Council of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA), as well as the 18th Managing Director’s Round Table, came to a close at the Continental Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, on 09 November 2023.

Under the theme of “Ports and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)“, the Managing Director of the Office des Ports et Rades du Gabon, Martin Boguikouma, current Chairman of PMAWCA, stressed the urgent need for change to meet the challenges posed by the AfCFTA. This continental free trade area is supposed to accelerate economic integration, stimulate production and the processing of raw materials, and promote industrialisation on the continent.

A number of recommendations came out of the meeting. These include :

  • the strengthening of port digitalisation through the dematerialisation of administrative and customs procedures, as well as operational activities;
  • the development of an African platform by building port infrastructures in line with international standards, to better serve the continent;
  • consolidating mechanisms to promote access to private finance to support the investment needed for port activities;
  • strengthening connectivity with the hinterland in order to minimise the disruption of loads through the development of multimodal transport;
    strengthening inter-state cooperation on safety and security.

PMAWCA experts also stressed the crucial importance of industrialisation and the processing of raw materials to ensure the economic success of the AfCFTA region.

With a view to the 44th Annual Council in November 2024 in the Republic of Guinea, the theme chosen will be “Ports and the marine coastal environment”. This demonstrates PMAWCA’s ongoing commitment to addressing the maritime and port issues that are crucial to the sustainable development of the region.