Speeches – press room – state house office of the president of the republic of seychelles

This Summit showcases the importance for the African continent to seize the rich opportunities that the maritime sector offers us, particularly in terms of sea trade. Today is also an occasion for us to focus on the promotion of African ownership and participation in shipping and maritime sectors.

It is a well known fact that the ocean covers two third of the world’s surface and has a direct impact on the economies of many countries. The African continent is the second biggest continent in the world, with a total coastline of over 26,000 nautical miles, including its islands. 38 out of 54 countries on the continent are either coastal or island states.

Yet, it is estimated that African owned ships account for only about 1.2% of the world shipping by number and 0.9% by gross tonnage. This illustrates significant room for improvement and growth on the current overall outlook in this important sector for our economies.

In its 2017 annual review of maritime transport, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s world sea-born trade projections show continued expansion in the medium-term, with volumes growing at an estimated compound annual growth rate of 3.2 percent between 2017 and 2022.

The geographical setup of our islands is made up of only 455 square kilometres of land but an Economic Exclusive Zone of 1.37 million square kilometres. This has compelled us to venture towards the sea in developing Seychelles into the High-Income Country that it is today.

The artisanal fishing industry evolved and the emergence of the long-line, semi-industrial fishing gave added impetus to our fisheries sector. This transformation gained international importance with the development of the Tuna Fishing industry which now forms one of the most important pillars of the Seychelles economy. The tuna canning factory, that grew from the development of the sector, is the country’s single largest employer.

We have not stopped there. In our quest for diversification of our Maritime Economy, Seychelles invested in a total of six fuel tankers over the years. Today, Seychelles has fully recouped its investment in the acquisition of the six tankers and is now generating profit which is boosting the country’s revenue stream.

During this two day summit, it is expected that we learn from each other and leave with additional knowledge, insight and inspiration on how we can implement policies and action plans in our respective countries to derive the maximum benefits from the maritime sector.

On behalf of the Government of Seychelles, I am pleased to announce that we will make land available for the construction of a Pan African Shipping Line Head Office. This will be the centre for all ship owners in Africa, and act as a hub for all activities related to the shipping and maritime sectors.

Ladies and gentlemen, this summit is a prime opportunity for all of us to gather our collective efforts towards “adjusting our sails” and capitalise on the opportunities that exist within the maritime industry in Africa and beyond, for the benefits of the African continent and its people.