The improvement of maritime connectivity is recognized as a structuring factor of regional economic integration. However, the evolution of the global merchant shipping sector points to a risk of marginalization of the small economies and narrow markets of the islands of the Southwest Indian Ocean.
Existing regional maritime connectivity and the productivity of ports in the region limit the ability of IOC Member States to benefit fully from the regional integration process within COMESA, SADC and the continental free trade area.
IOC studies have set recommendations to reduce the costs of maritime transport to, within and from the IOC region. These recommendations have identified the cost of maritime transport, the frequency of connections, volumes, availability of lines and the competitiveness of ports as obstacles to the dynamization of subregional trade.
However, it seems necessary to broaden this reflection by integrating East African countries in order to have a “critical mass” in terms of actors and trade potential. It is with this in mind that the IOC is undertaking an activity for regional maritime connectivity with the support of Japan, recognized as a global player in the field of maritime transport and port management.
The Government of Japan provided the IOC a grant of more than $875,000 from to conduct an Enhancing Maritime Connectivity Project (EMCP). This project is the first phase of a medium-term action supported by Japan.
Areas of intervention
This first phase of the EMCP aims to set up a technical committee whose activities and responsibilities are structured around the following three axes:
- To sensitize the beneficiary countries to the rationalization of port management structures and the simplification of decision-making processes for the modernization of infrastructures and trade facilitation;
- To establish a regular monitoring system for trade at the regional level, with particular emphasis on quantifying the region’s needs in terms of maritime transport on the basis of current and projected trade volumes;
- To establish a single maritime window as an instrument for regional trade facilitation.
EMCP will cover the IOC Member States (Union of Comoros, France/Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles) and the African coastal states (South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania).