Unlocking Opportunities for Green Shipping in Africa

Unlocking Opportunities for Green Shipping in Africa

Africa's abundance of solar, wind and thermal energy across the continent can place it at the core of the global decarbonisation of maritime transport

Africa's abundance of solar, wind and thermal energy across the continent can place Africa at the core of the global decarbonization of maritime transport, the IMO conference on Low-Carbon Shipping in Africa heard (5 May).

Africa's abundance of solar, wind and thermal energy across the continent can place Africa at the core of the global decarbonization of maritime transport, the IMO conference on Low-Carbon Shipping in Africa heard (5 May).

Speaking at the Conference, held in In Mombasa, Kenya and co-organized with the Kenya Maritime Authority, Mr Xiaojie Zhang, Director, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO, reminded delegates that 2023 is a critical year for maritime decarbonization, with Member States at the 80th session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in London the first week of July set to adopt IMO's 2023 GHG Strategy.

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Mr Zhang called on African nations to "to make your voice heard, and to unlock the great potential the phase out of greenhouse gas emissions of international shipping can generate in Africa."

"When IMO adopts this July a revised GHG Strategy with a clear phase‑out date of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, the global shipping industry will actively look at providers of alternative shipping fuels and African ports could become future energy hubs for low carbon shipping fuels," Mr Zhang said.

He emphasized the importance of carbon revenues that could be generated through an IMO economic measure - like a fuel levy - for financing port infrastructure, retrofitting capacity, or bunkering facilities across Africa.

This theme was echoed by Ambassador Ms Nancy Karigithu, Special Envoy on Blue Economy, Kenya, who highlighted the range of range of financing mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships, climate funds, and green bonds, to support the transition to low-carbon shipping.

She emphasized, too, the need for the transition in maritime to low-carbon shipping in Africa to consider the socio-economic dimensions of the challenge. "The transition needs to be inclusive and equitable," she said.

Hon Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, Minister of Transport, Ghana, echoed the call for Africa's participation at IMO meetings, "to ensure our needs and concerns are addressed and also indicate our support or otherwise for global maritime regulations".

"Africa is the key to speeding up global climate action on the Decarbonization Agenda. With its young and growing workforce, vast lands and various natural resources, the continent has the potential to make an important contribution to tackle climate change. These assets could be crucial in driving global efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, while creating new economic opportunities," Mr Ofori Asiamah said.

The IMO conference on Low-Carbon Shipping in Africa focused on "Overcoming challenges by unlocking opportunities and investments". It included panel sessions on:

  • Setting the scene: Global climate action and IMO's efforts to reduce GHG emissions from shipping

  • Shipping as enabler of climate action and energy transition

  • IMO's future framework and partnerships enabling the global take up of low- and zero carbon future fuels

  • National coordinated action enabling maritime decarbonization

  • Unlocking green maritime jobs in Africa

Common themes throughout the panel session were the opportunities for Africa as a continent, in terms of producing low and zero carbon future fuels. The challenges were highlighted, as well as the need for technology transfer and financing – and for the transition to be just and equitable transition.

Projects already underway and planned were outlined, including those being facilitated by IMO's Department for Partnerships and Projects, including through the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre for Africa (MTCC-Africa) such as the IMO-NORAD TEST Biofouling projectand the EU-funded Global MTCC Network Project (GMN) Phase II.

Country representatives from Angola, United Republic of Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya outlined their ongoing work to green their ports.

Many delegates who spoke voiced the need for IMO to give clear direction through its revised climate strategy. In his final remarks, Roel Hoenders, Head, Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, IMO, agreed that "setting an ambitious GHG reduction target at MEPC 80 will send a strong signal to the market and investors that maritime is ready to decarbonize - and this will bring new investments and new jobs to Africa".

Closing the conference, Mr Shadrack Mwadime, Principal Secretary, State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs, said that the discussions held during the conference "will better help African countries to prepare for the upcoming Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in July, and for African countries to have a common approach on how we want the international community to address greenhouse gas emissions".

The conference was organized by IMO, through IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), in collaboration with the Kenya Maritime Authority. Participants came from 49 African countries.

Participants included The Conference followed the 6th Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) Conference and General Assembly (3-4 May) (read more here).

Watch the video of the entire Conference here.

In February, Ghana hosted the first African Green Shipping Conference.

The Regional Conference on the theme "Seizing opportunities for green shipping in Asia and the Pacific", organized by the Philippines through the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and supported by IMO's ITCP, will be held in Manila, Philippines, from 16 to17 May. Read more here.

IMO supports developing countries in renewable energy production which could be made available to international shipping, through the ITCP, projects and the IMO GHG TC Trust Fund.

IMO has organized previous events on opportunities in ensuring a "just and equitable" transition of international shipping as presented during IMO's 2nd Alternative Fuel Symposium which took place on 21 October 2022, see: IMO Symposium on alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels for shipping as well as during COP 27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

The 2023 World Maritime theme is 'MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on'.

Read More: IMO Rules on Ship Carbon Intensity and Rating System Enter into Force

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