West-Central Africa Regional Maritime Sector Stakeholder
Conference on Global Best Practices in Vessel Clearance
19th – 20th January
On January 19th – 20th, 2023, the Ghana Maritime Authority hosted the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) West-Central Africa Regional Conference to promote public- private sector and inter-industry dialogue on tackling corruption in seaports. The Conference titled the “MACN Regional Maritime Sector Stakeholder Conference on Global Best Practices in Vessel Clearance,” was the first of its kind and provided opportunities for discussion on best practices between the public-private interface through keynotes, moderated panels, workshops, and open sessions.
Held at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Ghana, government and business stakeholders from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire were represented. The two-day conference aimed to be a stepping stone in designing projects in the participating countries to improve the business operating environment in the maritime industry through specific activities and wider port sector programs on integrity building and anti-corruption. Day one of the conference focused on experience sharing between countries, while day two featured training from the World Maritime University (WMU), Sweden on best practices within the current and anticipated maritime regulatory environment.
Conference Day 1 – 19th January 2023
The conference began with welcome remarks by the Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Mr. Thomas Alonsi, represented by the GMA Deputy Director General of Finance and Administration, Mr. Yaw A. Akosa. During his address, Mr. Alonsi acknowledged the size and importance of the maritime industry. He observed that the opaque and complex nature of maritime laws and operations leaves room for discretion by port officials, which in turn creates an environment where corruption can flourish.
He remarked, “In the absence of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or generally agreed upon principles, corruption as discretionary powers are abused.” Therefore, it is essential for public-private stakeholders to create and apply standards for the benefit of individual countries, the subregion, and the world at large. He closed his statement by urging participants to be attentive and active in the proceeding sessions.
Next, Mr. Vivek Menon, Associate Director of Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) delivered a brief history of the inception of MACN and its work on the African continent. He described how spurred by the 2010 UK Bribery Act, a coalition of 8 private shipping companies formed MACN in pursuit of a maritime industry characterised by integrity and transparency. Presently, MACN has over 180 member companies, and represents 50% of the global maritime tonnage and more than 75% of containerised tonnage.
Mr. Menon described 3 realities that drive MACN’s approach: 1) corruption and inefficient port operations present a challenge for all maritime stakeholders; 2) there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that can adequately address the scope of the problem; and 3) it is essential to build public-private maritime partnerships, as the private sector alone cannot address the issue. Finally, Mr. Menon gave insight into MACN’s purpose and strategy. He detailed that MACN works to help the private sector build its capacity to address risks by giving them various tools to be better prepared when they call at various ports and terminals.
MACN prioritises Collective Action, building public-private partnerships in the recognition that all parties have a responsibility to fulfill in making the maritime industry accountable and transparent. Finally, MACN uses data and evidence-based methods of addressing corruption risks to operationalise integrity commitments. Mr. Menon concluded that international collaboration is key to manifest regional improvement, encouraging member states to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to adopt anti-corruption reforms into their national policies in a bid to achieve the shared goal of making the business operating environment less costly and cumbersome.
Another keynote address was delivered by Mr. Tom Nørring, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark to Ghana. In his address, Mr. Nørring highlighted the importance of the Blue Economy to both consumers and industries as a key driver of job creation in the region, noting that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement provides an opportunity to integrate into the Blue Economy. He firmly emphasised the need to provide transparent and predictable port calls and noted that since first recognising this need, Denmark has been cooperating with Ghana to support safe journeys at seas through their 2016 Danish Maritime Security Programme in the Gulf of Guinea.
Mr. Nørring lauded the fact that in 2022, the programme became a trilateral agreement to include Ghana, Denmark, and Nigeria and also includes collaboration with the nations of Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and Benin. The programme has had a positive impact as evidenced by a drop in piracy in the region and the power of public- private partnerships to launch the new TEMA port terminal in Ghana. However, work remains to be done, especially in continuing cooperation to strengthen the full criminal justice chain relating to maritime crimes.
He shared that Denmark aims to be the world’s least corrupt country, recognising moral responsibilities while acknowledging that it is a global competitive advantage to conduct business in a trustworthy manner. He encouraged all workshop participants to join Denmark in “walk[ing] the anti-corruption talk.”
The Guest of Honour, His Excellency, Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, was ably represented by the Honourable Minister of Public Enterprises, Honourable Mr. Joseph Cudjoe, who stated that, “Corruption is a major obstacle to sustainable development in any nation since it leads to weakened institutions and creates injustice and insecurity… [It] must be discouraged and mitigated among both public and private [entities].” The negative impact of corruption accrues, he observed, first in delays and higher operational costs at the ports, then in negative effects on national trade and investment, and finally the stagnation of social and economic development.
A study completed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) determined the transportation sector – including the maritime industry – to be the second most-frequent industry regarding the collection of bribes. His Excellency Dr. Bawumia further observed that in Ghana alone, $ 8.3 Million USD is lost to corruption each month, amounting in nearly a $100 Million USD loss per year. To stem these gaps and losses, Dr. Bawumia stated, requires a solution that does not rely solely on regulation; rather, a solution must involve and be embraced by all sectors of society – public, private, and civil. What has Ghana done recently to this effect? In September of 2017, at the direction of His Excellency the Vice President, Ghana initiated the Port Paperless System (PPS) designed to ensure efficient and expeditious clearance of goods at ports.
The PPS also enables the import process flow to take place online, ensuring the capture of key importation data, the issuance of relevant licenses, permits, and certificates, and the performance of a risk-based clearance system digitally; the occurrence of bribery has decreased due to these reforms. Dr. Bawumia then reflected on the AfCFTA initiative unveiled on 5th July 2022 and its anticipated pilot run that will test trading documents and procedures on shipment of goods, noting that the success of the project depends on building an environment free of corruption.
He offered that those measures instituted by the IMO (as established in the February 2020 FAL 44/13 document) can be considered by participating nations as they seek to mature their respective maritime sectors. To conclude, His Excellency encouraged all participants towards cooperation to ensure fair trade for the benefit of society.
A final keynote address was delivered by the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Emmanuel Jime. In his speech, Mr Jime emphasized the strength of a Collective Action framework, assuring participants that they can count on the political will of the NSC to do their part in collaborating towards a transparent maritime industry. He described the 2020 development and launch of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) in response to the outcomes of a national Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA).
Mr Jime explained that the NPPM is Nigeria’s authoritative document that dictates all practices relating to pre-arrival, arrival, berthing, joint boarding for rummaging, and departure of vessels. The NPPM also details terminal operations and goods clearance processes according to the procedures set forth by the relevant regulatory agencies.
The strength of the document, he asserted, is its ability to align stakeholders to deliver on the ease of doing business to promote efficiency and transparency. Mr Jime thanked Nigerian government collaborators including the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), while lauding the achievements of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) to monitor and enforce the tenets of the NPPM. Mr Jime concluded by re-emphasizing the continuous need for Collective Action and capacity building.
Panel Session 1
Following the keynote addresses, the first panel session, “Positioning our Ports & Terminals for the Blue Economy and the AfCFTA Opportunity,” was moderated by Mr. Fred Dartey, Head of Freight and Logistics of the Ghana Shippers Authority.
Mr Dartey directed his first question to Mrs. Bosede Oguntuberu, Team Leader of the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms, Nigeria (TUGAR, representing Mrs. Jane Onwumere, Head of TUGAR), asking what action had been taken regarding vessel clearance in Nigeria. Mrs. Oguntuberu explained that in 2009, TUGAR commissioned a Corruption Risk Assessment to determine the specific integrity challenges faced during Nigeria’s maritime processes and procedures, thereby calibrating solutions to fight corruption through prevention at specific pain points in the industry.
Mrs. Oguntuberu shared that 35 independent assessors were trained to carry out the assessment, resulting in the identification of various challenges including 1) the numerous cumbersome documents requiring signature by officials, 2) irregularities during the joint boarding process upon arrival of a ship, and 3) a lack of a standardized knowledge of what proper vessel pre-arrival, arrival, and departure procedures should be by officials and seafarers alike. These challenges were addressed – port agencies collaborated to ensure fewer documentations with sign-offs were needed, achieving a decrease of delays at ports; strict procedures around who can board the ships (including when, duration of boarding, and required ID cards prior to boarding) that minimize the opportunities for bribery; and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been created to ensure all parties are knowledgeable of what port procedures ought to be (and can identify when there is a departure from due process).
Mr Moses Fadipe, Deputy Director of Nigeria Shippers’ Council and National Coordinator of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), added to Mrs Oguntuberu’s reflections by providing data to illustrate further the positive impact of various port reforms in Nigeria. He described how beginning in 2016, the use of a Collective Action framework has brought together 14 government agencies, several private stakeholders, and civil society groups to address corruption in Nigeria’s ports and terminals.
Positive interventions due to collective action include the issuance of Nigeria’s Executive Order 001, the publication of the Nigerian Port Process Manual, and the creation and implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Among the most prominent of these reforms is the creation and ongoing operation of Nigeria’s Port Standing Task Team (PSTT). The results of the PSTT’s interventions speak for themselves: when beginning to track data on vessel arrivals in 2019, 266 requests for large, unreceipted cash payments (bribes) were recorded.
In 2020, the figure was 128, in 2021, 84, and in 2022, there were below 50 demands. Additionally, the average time of a vessel moving from anchorage to berth decreased from 5 – 6 hours to 1 – 1.5. Similarly, resolving complaints made by vessels decreased from an average of 7-10 days (with a cost of $150,000 USD in demurrage to the vessels for each day delayed) to being resolved on the go in 1-7 hours by government agencies working together. What is the cumulative effect of these reforms? Port calls that once cost vessel owners an average of $ 150,000 USD now cost an average of $ 20,000 USD.
Mr Ofonasaha Udofia, President of the Rivers/Bayelsa Shippers’ Association (RIBASA), Nigeria, and member of the Integrity Alliance Port Harcourt, spoke on how corruption in the maritime industry has repercussions on land. He explained that the cost of doing business in Nigeria’s trucking industry (transporting goods from ports to warehouses and around the nation) is high due to the number of checkpoints truckers must clear en route to their destination. He detailed that along one axis in Lagos city, there are up to 45 checkpoints during the day, and 90 at nighttime.
Reducing the number of checkpoints, he reasoned, is key in facilitating trade, as it would enable an increase in turnover (and quicker turn-around) for shippers in Nigeria’s ports. Mr Udofia also commented on the importance of sharing information between government agencies and other port stakeholders and a reduction in arbitrary charges. He concluded his remarks on a critical point – that while it is necessary to penalize port users for non-compliance, it is just as necessary to reward shippers and truckers for compliance with proper procedures.
In response to Mr Udofia’s statement, Mr Dartey, moderator, noted the benefits of recognizing shippers who are compliant with port procedures as is done in Ghana through the Ghana Shippers Award. He also posited that Ghanaian shippers share a grievance with Nigeria on the numerous charges, particularly container administrative charges, that discourage business. Looking to other panelists, Mr Dartey asked after Ghana’s position regarding corruption at ports. What actions have already been taken, and can we expect significant progress in the future?
Captain William Thompson (ret.), Deputy Director of Inspections and Surveys at the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) explained that the GMA has taken to employing ex-seafarers. He stated that this practice of bringing in those with private-sector acumen capable of seeing the port “user” perspective has introduced greater professionalism, increased efficiency, and has helped discourage the practice of gift-seeking.
Next, the Ghana Ownership Act seeks to increase ship ownership in Ghana. Captain Thompson also described a process by which vessels that have committed a violation of port procedures are able to appeal the violation, and if they incur a fine, they are able to sign an undertaking to pay the fine within two weeks so as not to cause delay at the ports and increase costs to the shipper. Finally, Ghanaian officials have been working to ensure that no one is able to carry any cargo or goods from the ship, even when such “gifts” are voluntarily, presumptively offered by seafarers.
Mr Dartey then queried to what extent technology can be introduced into the operation and monitoring of port procedures. Are there nations that use digital systems presently? Mrs. Oguntuberu described Nigeria’s Port Service Support Portal (PSSP) which all maritime agencies have access to that hosts the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) and agency SOPs, and receives complaints and inquiries by port users. She described that the system’s data analysis and its inter-agency transparency as it identifies risks and details incidents of corruption and serves as positive peer pressure for agencies to stem corruption in their halls.
Mrs. Oguntuberu also described MACN’s comprehensive Global Port Integrity Platform (GPIP), available to MACN members, that tracks national performance on maritime integrity commitments in profound detail at a port level. The platform is a result of MACN’s push to digitise and share relevant data on the state of the shipping industry. Mr Fadipe added to the conversation, restating the importance of gathering evidence, aggregating data, and leveraging technology (such as PortCallAssist, MACN’s/CBi’s online HelpDesk and call center) to decrease demands for large, unreceipted cash payments.
Mr Dartey and Captain Thompson noted that Ghana does not yet have a platform where complaints can be lodged or resolution tracked; instead, berthing meetings and informal WhatsApp platforms provide opportunities for dialogue between officials and port users. Nonetheless, Captain Thompson encouraged the creation of a comprehensive digital platform for Ghana.
Mr Dartey then asked Dr Emeka Akabogu, Secretary of the Nigerian Maritime Law Association, about the legal framework that guides port operations – and reform – in Nigeria. Dr Emeka spoke on the wisdom of leveraging existing provisions across agencies, pointing to Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC) streamlining maritime operational mandates into SOPs as an example. He also commended the work of the Port Standing Task Team to stop arbitrary charges. He enjoined participants not to be discouraged if they lack specific provisions, but to know they can find creative ways to ensure that both public and private interests are met.
He paused to reflect that much of the positive changes in Nigeria is due to the Federal Government’s issuance of Executive Order 001 that gave the Nigerian Shippers’ Council greater powers to monitor and enforce compliance with maritime provisions and agency procedures; he therefore highlighted the importance of national backing to support implementation of reforms. Finally, Dr. Akabogu called on each participating nation to domesticate the provisions of the AfCFTA Agreement and lean on each other for peer review for regional improvement.
In the ensuing Question and Answer discussion, it came to light that:
- There is an interplay between corruption and inefficiency, and solving bite-sized problems in inefficiency can greatly help address corruption at ports.
- SMEs operating in the maritime industry ought to consolidate their efforts, joining together to dialogue and challenge “heavy weights” such as large multinational companies and government agencies.
- Resources such as the 2017 edition on the outcomes of the 1967 Convention on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) are available for use and adaptation by IMO member states.
- Senegal has created an Internal Control Office to address corruption, deal with complaints, and improve low throughput in the country. Other reforms include the creation of an IT system to collect data and share information (in concert with 24 African nations, the set-up of a toll-free line, and the promotion of inter-agency and international collaboration.
- Cameroon encouraged that attendees research and participate in ongoing initiatives across West Africa, such as the observatory to deal with challenges faced by shipping SMEs and coalitions to boost infrastructure capacity.
- The sustainability of national maritime reform requires political will; the long-term success of such reforms will depend on building strong institutions rather than relying on “strong individuals.”
- Participating nations remained curious about Nigeria’s success of the ongoing sanitization of their vessel clearance process, requesting a detailed Case Study to serve as a Blueprint for their own endeavors. Mr Soji Apampa, CEO of the Convention on Business Integrity (CBi), assured participants that such a Blueprint would be created and shared.
In their closing remarks, Mrs Oguntuberu encouraged collaboration and learning; Mr Fadipe noted that fighting corruption takes strong will and passion, but success has lasting ripple effects; Captain Thompson recalled that in the past, Nigeria was not a pleasant place to visit and is grateful the narrative has been changed; Mr Udofia maintained that corruption is a byproduct of inefficiency, and training can be used to improve efficacy; Mr Akabogu stated that we must consider what happens to economic operators who breach the law, and encouraged participants to reflect on the concepts of technology, data, information sharing, vigilance, reporting, and blacklisting in the maritime sector.
Panel Session 2
The second panel session, conducted in French, treated the topic of “Positioning our Ports & Terminals for the Blue Economy and the AfCFTA Opportunity,” and was moderated by Mr. Giscard Ogoula, Secretary General of the Union of African Shippers Councils.
Mr. Giscard began the session by inquiring what mechanisms various countries have put in place to stem corrupt practices at the ports. Mr Michael Aguiy, Head of Maritime Regulations, Ministry of Transportation Cameroon, disclosed that Cameroon has set up National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), generally referred to by its French acronym, CONAC, an organ that uses a general approach to fight corruption in various public sectors.
Taking a localized approach, CONAC has installed general inspectorates in each agency, tailoring anti-corruption mandates to address sector-specific challenges. Furthermore, Mr Aguiy acknowledged that maritime corruption takes place along land-based port corridors and emphasized the need to a confront it thereby highlighting the responsibility of coastal nations to ensure transparent, effective processes on behalf of landlocked countries that depend on the throughput of their ports.
Finally, Mr Aguiy discussed the recent IMO member state audit that conducted port reviews, assessed port performance, and encouraged compliance with international best practices and standards. The results of the audit yielded the creation and implementation of a corrective action plan to standardise port processes to ensure ports and shippers’ interests are protected.
Mr Sidibe Mamadou, Head of Port Maritime Health Control Post, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Health, addressed the audience, reiterating that prime challenges facing Africa’s maritime sector include 1) a lack of sufficient infrastructure (referring to Liberia as an example, as the nation does not own one ship or operate a seaport but is a Flag State); 2) the financial architecture used to finance ports are susceptible to and are a cause of further corruption (the creation and protection of monopolies, the stealth transfer of property rights to consolidate power); and 3) the failure to collaborate, both within each nation and along the entire Gulf of Guinea coastline, feeding only stifling competition rather than regional improvement.
Mr. Gnama Mawaiboyodou, Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Maritime Economy, Fisheries, and Coastal Protection, Togo, and former Director of Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Maritime, Togo, asserted that to properly eradicate corruption at the ports, it is necessary to know corruption’s root cause. To this end, Togolese authorities conducted a study and discovered that many individuals pay bribes to conceal other corrupt practices and inadequacies. To combat bribes, facilitation payments and Illicit practices, Togo has set up a Central Office for the Repression of the Illicit Trafficking of Drugs and Money Laundering and has also put together a joint unit of customs officials and security officers for container examination to curb corruption.
This examination also involves routine checks to ascertain if port staff have raided goods from ships or their containers. Additionally, The High Authority for the Prevention and Fight Against Corruption and Related Offences (HAPLUCIA) works to prevent corruption through the following pillars: 1) sensitisation, 2) data processing, 3) protection of whistleblowers and 4) cooperation with international institutions and relevant agencies. Like preceding panelists, Mr. Mawaiboyodou noted the significance of the port corridor and stated that a committee had been put together to address issues on the landside of the maritime industry.
He lauded the fact that Togo was the first country to comply with the principle of removing barriers along port corridors and opening opportunities for international collaboration to improve trade. Turning his attention to the necessity to integrate IT into port processes, Mr Mawaiboyodou shared that he looks to the future where Togo uses a single window for all payments and fiscal transactions at the ports and where funds are sent directly to the public treasury that allocates capital to each administration. This complete digitisation, he says, is already underway and will lessen the opportunities for bribery.
While Mr Achil Tchendjo, Sub Director of Training & International Cooperation, National Shippers Council, Republic of Cameroon agreed with previous panelists on the importance of understanding the nature and underlying causes of corruption and that it is prevalent along the entire port infrastructure including the port corridor, he recentered the discussion on AfCFTA, noting that the agreement was created specifically in reference to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the region. AfCFTA, he said, provides a tremendous opportunity if operationalised, as shipping accounts for 80% of all trade.
He commended measures that participating nations have already taken, but noted the persisting need to reduce the cost of doing business in the developing economy via port trade. In preparation of full adoption of the Agreement, Cameroon has created a joint bilateral committee tasked with finding solutions to enable cooperation and joint responses to fight corruption, defending the rights of SMEs and small-scale entities.
He stated that regulation and port procedures ought not impede trade, particularly among SME players, for it is an “insurmountable” and cumbersome regulatory/operating environment that incentivizes the business community to find alternative means of achieving their goals (whether through informal markets and sectors, or through corruption). In addition, Mr Tchendjo was in agreement with Mr Mawaiboyodou for the need for a single payment window to facilitate transactions and decrease opportunities for corruption.
Mr. Tchendjo encouraged attendees to consider gender diversity and youth inclusion when seeking to ameliorate cross-border trade. He concluded his remarks by calling for international collaboration, and for continued support from MACN and CBi.
Explaining the current anti-corruption framework, Mr. Koffi Yeboua, Head of Infrastructure Logistics Department, Shippers Council, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, offered that to unclog the ports, port audit results inspired and enabled the creation of a platform that makes port processes more transparent and efficient. Each week, public officials and private port users submit dispute cases, relevant documents, and other information on the portal to be processed weekly in a bid to reduce fraud. Additionally, the vessel arrival, berthing, and discharging of cargo processes have been improved through new policies: ships must submit necessary documents to their port of call 48 hours prior to arrival to ensure quick turnaround, and public warehouses are prepared to store the cargo of incoming ships, thus minimizing delays and demurrage. Mr Mamadou added to Mr Yeboua’s comments, explaining that Côte d’Ivoire has established processes to discourage gift giving.
Raising the issue of a single window once more, Mr Ogoula, the moderator, asked, “How does the single window work in Cameroon, and what is its state of implementation ahead of AfCTFA and FAL Convention mandates?” Mr Tchendjo reiterated the benefit of using a single window to decrease the inflection points and opportunities for corruption. He also agreed that a single window allows for quicker turnaround of vessels and turnover of cargo.
He noted that under the past manual, paper-based system, vessels spent up to 56 days docked at ports. However, now that formalities are integrated on a blockchain system, the duration of vessel stays has greatly decreased. Mr Tchendjo admited that Cameroon has not yet adopted a completely paperless system, as some payments remain manually done; however, there has been progress made towards adopting a truly paperless system in one of the most relevant of agencies, Customs. Mr Tchendjo gave a final thought on the importance of leveraging a public-private partnership to achieve port reform.
Day one of the Regional Maritime Sector Stakeholder Conference ended with a final Question and Answer session, where panelists and participants made the following remarks:
- Dealing with corruption also includes stemming the insecurity that causes corruption.
- There is a need to aggregate, host, and analyse big data on a national level and to build national infrastructure in support of port reforms.
- The first step needed to curb the latitude of public officials who use their own discretion to create offences that do not exist/or to insist there was a contravention where there was none is the creation, documentation, and accessible publication of authoritative Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
- It is key to shift agencies first to consider their role in trade facilitation rather than their role in meeting governmental revenue targets.
Conference Day 2 – 20th January 2023
The second day of the conference was facilitated by the delegation from The World Maritime University (WMU). Dr. Max Mejia, Director of the PhD Program and Associate Academic Dean WMU, opened his remarks by noting his delight at seeing several WMU alumni in attendance. He gave an overview of WMU’s history, purpose, and current course offerings.
Panel Session 1
Dr. Aref Fakhry, Associate Professor of Maritime Law and Policy WMU delivered a presentation on standards of behavior in the maritime industry through a regulatory lens during his session, “Policies, Laws & Regulations on Maritime Corruption, Approaching Bribery and Payment Demands from the Perspective of the Maritime Administration.” Dr. Fakhry shared that according to the World Bank and other UN sources, $ 1.5 Trillion USD is paid in bribes annually, representing 2% of global GDP. Incredibly, these bribes are often in the form of “trivial gifts” as a means of facilitation payments to avoid disproportionally large penalties such as ship detention and blacklisting.
An empirical study by Cardiff University found that a blanket ban against gift-giving creates stressful and potentially dangerous situations for seafarers, proving that anti-corruption mandates must be sensitive to the realities of the operating environment to be effective. Dr. Fakhry then identified factors and avenues for corruption, including broad discretion by port officials, lack of service standards, lack of a sense of duty by officials and seafarers, weak sanctions and judiciary, and low salaries of public servants to discharge their duties.
He mentioned that nations must be prepared for the implications of failing to adequately address corruption in the light of a tightening regulatory framework where new regulations have international, extraterritorial applications.
Dr. Fakhry then gave an overview of several prominent conventions, including the UNODC Convention Against Corruption, 2010 UK Bribery Act, and the various mandates of the IMO’s FAL Convention (most recently IMO’s Facilitation Committee at its 46th session 9 to 13 May 2022) that approved the Guidance to Implement and Adopt Procedures Against Maritime Corruption initiative.
Panel Session 2
The following session, also delivered by Dr. Fakhry, discussed information gathering through inspections and verification of documents and data, examining what information should be collected and reported, and taking a normative approach to ship-to-shore practices. Dr. Fakhry acknowledged that ships are subject to the jurisdictions of Flag States, Port States, and Coastal States as they operate.
While seafarers are (or ought to be) protected by their indivisible human rights regardless of their current jurisdiction, seafarers remain subject to the national laws of their jurisdictions. For example, corruption is unequivocally proscribed in most, if not all, national laws, whereas “business integrity” (or the concept of “good faith”) is not a legal principle in many jurisdictions. Seafarers are therefore vulnerable to exploitation due to the differences between these jurisdictions.
Why do international conventions fail to provide uniform maritime standards that might eliminate this risk? Dr. Fakhry explained that international conventions that create uniform maritime norms and standards are purposefully worded sparingly to enable each nation to exercise its sovereignty by “filling in the details.” He elaborated that there are four main areas that conventions seek to regulate internationally: 1) security, safety of ships, and navigation 2) protection of the marine environment, 3) maritime labour, and 4) facilitation of maritime traffic.
Dr. Fakhry reintroduced IMO’s FAL Convention as an international convention created to prevent unnecessary delays in maritime traffic, aid co-operation between Governments, and to secure the highest practicable degree of uniformity in formalities and other procedures. Two of the foremost benefits of the Convention, he said, are the reduction in number of declarations required by public authorities, and the pressure to implement the highly anticipated single window for maritime data exchange. Dr. Fakhry then spoke on the role of port state control to verify a vessel’s compliance with binding international standards.
He concluded by highlighting that there remains work to do in ensuring there are express national laws to guide ship-to-shore practices, the domestication and widespread understanding of international maritime, continual national consultation with stakeholders, and decisive action by relevant stakeholders to combat and prevent corruption.
Panel Session 3
Dr. Mejia delivered the third and final workshop on behavior modification; specifically, he examined the question “What reforms are needed to achieve effective and efficient Ports in the context of a Blue Economy?” Dr. Mejia began by offering a definition for the Blue (or Ocean) Economy, noting that it is a vehicle by which nations can achieve their Sustainable Development Goals. He acknowledged that the African Union’s 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AU 2050 AIMS) encapsulates the Blue Economy, naming it the “new frontier of African Renaissance.”
To achieve the Blue Economy, ports that function as the sea- land interface must embed predictability and uniformity through implementation of best practices (as represented by guidelines such as the UN Economic Commission for Africa, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and IMO standards). Of note are the FAL Convention Amendments that encourage governments to press public authorities to assess corruption risks at ports and address them through preventative measures.
The amendments additionally state that authorities should work to detect, investigate, and sanction corruption in the maritime industry. As best practice, Dr. Mejia stated that member states of IMO 1) are encouraged to establish penalties, 2) should ensure compliance with anti-corruption laws, 3) are encouraged to strengthen capacity and institution-building to prevent and combat corruption, 4) are invited to familiarize, educate and train relevant personnel in the avoidance of corruption, and 5) are encouraged to facilitate the prevention and detection of corruption incidents as well as share and learn from existing best practices.
Dr. Mejia also offered best practices regarding regulatory frameworks and controls, methods to prevent corrupt requests and demands, manners to reject corrupt requests at ports, tools to establish accountability, transparency, access to information, and awareness raising. Finally, Dr. Mejia shared specific behaviour modification attitudes the public and private sector can adopt (or discard) to actualise and embed integrity at the ports. He mentioned that behaviour modification is critical, as seafarers already modify their own behaviours in response to corruption to the detriment of port nations (eg., ships are willing to travel 319 km (and encumber 3 times greater costs) in order to avoid coercive corruption at a port).
An interactive group session and Q&A took place where participants inquired and gave guidelines on ways to refine approaches to vessel clearance at home, especially in response to the regulatory environment. Ms. Saida Jembe Akate of the Ghana Maritime Authority gave a vote of thanks and the conference was closed by Mr Soji Apampa (CBi) who also thanked attendees and facilitated the distribution of attendance certificates through Mr. Emmanuel Jime, Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).