RAME 2016 brings industry professionals under the same roof

Published: Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Region Africa and Middle East conference took place on 19 May in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Hosted by the Ethiopian Freight Forwarders and Shipping Agents Association (EFFSAA), the Region Africa and Middle East (RAME–2016), a FIATA regional conference, brought the industry’s top names together with an attendance of over 400 delegates.

Opening the conf-erence at the United Nations Economic Commission was HE DrWorknehGebeyehu, Minister of Transport of Ethiopia highlighting Ethiopia’s plan to expand the national road network and railway development.

Dr. Arkebe Oqubai, Minister and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia briefed delegates on the country’s Vision 2025, which aims to make Ethiopia the leading manufacturing hub of Africa. According to this vision, the manufacturing sector has to grow by 25 per cent annually, while GDP grows by 11 per cent. The share of manufacturing in GDP and in the exports sector will have to quadruple by 2025, while generating two million jobs in the sector.

“This conference really welcomed public sector delegates allowing them to interact first hand with freight forwarders on their day to day struggles moving goods across the continent. The need for private sector intervention has never been greater and Addis Ababa has really allowed for such an opportunity to take place,” said RAME Chairman Basil Pietersen.

Highlighting the importance of the meeting was FLA Chairman and FIATA Past President MrIssaBaluch, “A one market is the ultimate goal here in Africa allowing for the free movement of not only goods but also people through facilitated VISA procedures. This will in turn enhance eco- nomic opportunity and stimulate growth.”

Three panel discussions were prepared for Day 1. Dr. Kassahun Aberu underlined the role of the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE) which handles 60 per cent of import sea freight, 60 per cent of multimodal container cargoes, 40 per cent of bulk import and 35–40 per cent of export cargo holding a monopoly in the Ethiopian market.

David KoNutakor, Member of the FIATA ABVT and the FIATA Foundation contrasted the monopolistic situation in Ethiopian with those of West African countries for which monopolies did not exist. Paul Hansen from UNCTAD argued that about 44 per cent of transport costs can be related to cross- border inefficiencies. Clearance times are key determinants of foreign investment, export status and productivity linking his presentation to the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

A video conference was held between moderator Mr. Baluch, and Professor Calestous Juma, Harvard University. Professor Juma highlighted visa restrictions which were really problematic and the issue had been raised at the recent AU meeting. Some countries like Rwanda are thinking of giving visas on arrival, but integration requires free movement of people and articles. “One has to select strategic entry points for quick integration and Africa has the opportunity to leap into technologies such as high speed trains and investing in aerospace and engineering capabilities,” said the professor.

Paola Corrado, WFP Ethiopian Head, informed that in Ethiopia, the World Food Program serves 7.9 million people and in 2015 it transported six million tons of food aid. As Ethiopia harbours refugees, WFP uses Ethiopia as transit to South Sudan.

Daniel Zemichael’s speech briefed on the situation in landlocked African transit countries. He suggested that countries needed to look for other alternatives to development, one option could be drones.

Stephen Karingi, Director of Trade UNECA, informed the audience that all issues about African integration such as the Yamoussoukro Declaration, the Tripartite Agreement, etc. have been reviewed by the UNECA. He later spoke with freight forwarding delegates about their experiences in having to cope with trade policy that has not taken their views into consideration prior to implementation.

Closing the meeting at the Gala Dinner held in the African Union headquarters was Salahadin Khalifa, the Organizing Committee Chairman. He remarked, “We wanted the conference to be both welcoming and awe-inspiring, we wanted the conference to accommodate discussion on national as well as regional issues, we selected a venue where majority of the countries in the region are represented such as ECA (Economic Commission for Africa) and AU (African Union) and stated that Ethiopia was now preparing its bid to host the FIATA World Congress in 2020.”