The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Dr Kofi Mbiah, has been elected Chairman of the Union of African Shippers Councils (UASC) for the next two years.
Burkina Faso was elected Vice-Chairman with the Statutory Treasurer position going to Cameroon.
Others include Rapporteur Numbers one and two, Benin and Angola respectively while the Chairman for the Permanent Committees one and two went to Nigeria and Cote d’ Ivoire.
The first and second Auditors position went to Congo Brazzaville and Togo.
The UASC is made up of 18 member Shippers Councils in the West and Central African sub-region and headquartered in Douala, Cameroun.
In order to combine their actions and strengthen their position in the development of the sub-region's economies, the Shippers' Councils of West and Central Africa came together in 1977 under the UASC, a specialised organ of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).
Dr Mbiah, who takes over from Mr Anatole Kikwa Mwata Mukambo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was sworn into office at a ceremony climaxing the 10th General Assembly Meeting of the Union in Accra.
Dr Mbiah's assumption of the Chairmanship followed his election by popular acclamation by the Chief Executives of the various Shippers Councils.
He said: "Our Union has not only risen to the occasion when so required, but has more often than not been proactive in addressing the challenges of trade, transport and logistics confronting our shippers".
He lauded the achievements chalked by the UASC over the period of its existence noting in particular that "together we have worked towards the removal of bottlenecks that impede trade.
“Putting in place structures for the negotiation of tariffs and other charges affecting our shippers; introduction of Electronic Cargo Tracking Systems to ensure that our shippers receive timely information on their shipments to make them competitive; negotiated within the framework of the WTO and UNCTAD in the interest of our shippers and collaborated with our partners in the service of international trade and transport".
Dr Mbiah also commended the out-going Chairman, Mr Mukambo, for his hard work, dedication and commitment which saw the Union achieve monumental strides in its development and more importantly for championing the production of a five-year vision and strategic plan.
The strategy is dubbed: “The reference organisation in Transport Facilitation and International Trade Competitiveness for the benefit of Shippers in Africa”.
He said it was the new Vision and Strategy, coupled with the Union's objectives that would form the bedrock of the development of plans and programs over the next biennium; and, therefore, called for support from member states to realise these objectives.
Dr. Mbiah said there was a new paradigm shift in attending to the dynamics of the maritime trade and transport industry which required huge investments in ports and port infrastructure.
He said the Union would work with governments to transform port infrastructure, remove the barriers to trade, deepen technological penetration and give true meaning to a common market, and build linkages for easy access to trade.
"The task of keeping our Union afloat remains a daunting one. It calls for unity, commitment and dedication towards the realisation of the lofty objectives of our founding fathers," Dr Mbiah added.
Some of the key objectives of the UASC include the strengthening of cooperation among member councils, negotiations with shipping lines serving the sub region, the reduction of the incidence of transport costs on member countries, the facilitation of transit and cooperation for the protection of shippers’ interest with respect to problems related to the carriage of goods.