Periklis Saragiotis of the World Bank says Ghana must look more seriously into shipment processes and procedures at the Tema Port if it is to become a hub for the West African sub-region.
He said the port could play a more critical role as an entry and exit point for countries in the sub-region if it focuses more on addressing the issue in processes and procedures for transit and transhipment.
Mr Saragiotis, a private sector development specialist in trade and facilitation with the World Bank Group, said this at a public sector workshop on improving transparency and trade facilitation at the Tema Port, in Accra.
The workshop was one of two organised from October 10-13, 2016 by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the World Bank Group under the European Union-funded ‘Improved and Facilitated Trade in West Africa’ project.
He said there was intense competition in the sub-region, with countries improving their infrastructure and processes, thus it was important for port authorities in Ghana to find ways of being competitive, adding that global best practices as found in Singapore showed the benefits of focusing on transhipment.
“There are opportunities for Ghana; it’s out there. It’s just a matter of understanding the seriousness of the issues and trying to do something about them,” he said, adding that the proposed reforms in this area could be transformational in making the Tema port a regional hub and recognised global player.
The workshop brought together public sector stakeholders from or having a responsibility at the Tema Port and selected private sector stakeholders to review the port assessment maps and discuss the reform proposals from the private sector workshop held earlier in the week.
The project team, based on diagnostic and analytical assessment of processes and procedures at the Tema port, developed Business Process Maps (BPMs) to depict activities at the port and made recommendations for reforms to streamline the processes in a bid to reduce time and cost.
Mr Saragiotis said while BPMs were used extensively by the private sector and industry in operational management, this was the first time the World Bank or any international financial institution was using this methodology to map the complex processes and procedures at the Port.
Manuel Henriques, Principal Private Sector development specialist-trade facilitation explained that while the Tema Port was a major part of one of the key trade corridor, the Tema-Ouagadougou corridor, it also represented about three quarters of the amount of time and costs it took to move goods from Accra to Ouagadougou.
This challenge stemmed from issues in the procedure and procedure thus the focus on them and the development of the BPMs
The team recommended the design and implementation of a best practice regulatory and procedural framework for transhipment as there was currently no dedicated procedural framework for transhipment.
Other proposed reforms cover areas such as containerisation of transit cargo, VA on transit services, coordination between government agencies, sampling processes, and range for automation, streamlining of processes and procedures, institution of regulation, among others.
Mr Moustapha Gnankambary, ECOWAS-USAID Senior Trade Facilitation Advisor, Customs Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission, said the Tema Port was key in the region, especially as the economies of land-locked countries continued to expand.
Mr Ignacio Burrull, Head of Cooperation at the European Union Commission in Ghana, said the EU was very interested in the reforms, as it aimed to strengthen economic and trade ties between West Africa and Europe as well as promote and increase the rather low intra and inter regional trade.
“The EU will continue to be engaged in this sector in our future cooperation with the region” he stated.
Obi Ihonor, Project Leader of the project, said the agreement on the implementation roadmap for the proposed reforms, agreed by the workshop and its implementation, will boost trade, increase competitiveness, deepen regional integration and ultimately create jobs for Ghanaians and West Africans.
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