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


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. 

About the authors

Professor Oliver Christian Ruppel is the director of the Development and Rule of Law Programme and a professor of law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Stellenbosch. Until 2010 he held one of the first academic chairs of the WTO, Geneva, which he established at the University of Namibia, Windhoek, where he had previously also served as director of the Human Rights and Documentation Centre. He is an international arbitrator with the Association of Arbitrators of Southern Africa and the Swiss Chamber for Commercial Mediation.

David Julian Biam is a postgraduate student of political science at the Bavarian School of Public Policy, Munich, an associated institute of the Ludwig Maximilian University. In 2014 he was an affiliate student at the Faculty of Law of the University of Stellenbosch, working with Professor Ruppel at the Development and Rule of Law Programme, where he conducted interdisciplinary research on international law and the role of Africa’s economic relations in international relations. 

Picture: ©Jacqueline Cochrane/ISS

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