Taking back the seas: prospects for Africa's blue economy

Taking back the seas: prospects for Africa's blue economy

The discussion of Africa’s so-called blue economy rose to the top of African leaders’ agenda when African union (Au) members started a campaign for a continent-wide renaissance of the African maritime domain.

Cabotage, an element of the broader maritime industry, and a central aspect of this paper, is defined as the voyage of a vesselbetween two points within the borders of a single nation or within an economically unified region (e.g. the european union or north American free Trade Agreement). More precisely, the term refers to a set of industry rules designed to protect a country’s maritime trade by excluding foreign players from intra-state maritime transport services.

International shipping is driven by fierce competition. The history of maritime trade within Africa’s coastal waters has been characterised by foreign exploitation since the early colonial era. Today, the African Union (AU), through its 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy, plans to implement new cabotage laws to finally liberate the continent’s maritime transport industry from foreign dominance. However, certain barriers must first be overcome, including increasing the capacity and efficiency of Africa’s maritime industry.

This paper evaluates the AU’s proposed introduction of pro-African cabotage laws focusing on their economic potential and regulatory implications. It also highlights core challenges posed by Africa’s struggle for greater economic liberation of its coastal waters.

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