The McDan Group of Companies is set to bring life into the defunct Ghana Black Star Line as it procured two shipping vessels and two cargo planes to begin running an African shipping line.
This African shipping line will be in the style of the defunct Black Star Line in its resolve to support opportunities there are in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The erstwhile Black Star Line (BSL) was a government-owned shipping line, which was established by Ghana’s first President – Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah – in October 1957, after his government commercially engaged representatives of Zim, Israeli National Shipping Line, with an initial capital of five hundred thousand pounds.
The BSL, which was a source of pride for Ghanaians in the 1970s, emulated the American civil rights leader – Marcus Garvey – who established a shipping company called the Black Star Line in 1919, a kind owned and operated by black people, that would link America, the Caribbean and Africa, giving them direct access to shipping and tourism opportunities. It died out of thievery and mismanagement.
Black Star Line was amongst the renowned global cargo service provider which had been active in Africa in the Freight Forwarding Services for couple of decades dealing with major Corporate Accounts to handle their Air Freight, Ocean Freight, Projects / BB handling, Vessel Chartering, Customs clearance and Transportation offering Complete End to End handling solutions.
However, the company went defunct as its operations grounded.
Ghana’s initial plan was to run the shipping vessels between the country and Europe, importing machinery, cement and other cargo, and exporting produce. With growth, the vessels sailed to North America and the Mediterranean, however, in the end, trade volumes and the capacity of the shipping line was uneconomical, thus, the company’s fleet were eventually sold in the late 1990s.
Experts in Africa’s maritime sector have held that border controls are among major issues likely to impede AfCFTA’s successes. However, with the assurance of good maritime security and governance in littoral countries, there could be the certainty of smooth transit trade among African states, promoting huge sources of revenue, should there be an African shipping line.
They also assert that many foreign shipping lines virtually fleece their African clients with astronomical charges, and unnecessarily elongate the shipping routes: An example being one exporting via shipping vessels from one West African state to another – it is said to sometimes tranship to Europe before getting to its destination in the nearby country, reinforcing exorbitant freight charges.
The procurement of the two shipping vessels and two cargo planes is therefore, considered a good initiative that will engineer the global cargo services and place Ghana back on the map.
According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the McDan Group of Companies, Dr Daniel McKorley, the non-existence of a shipping line in any African country is a concern, and that every ship operating on African shores presently, comes from outside the continent.
Speaking as a Guest-of-Honour at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFCSC), when the Military College commenced its 2023 edition of the Maritime Sector Governance Course 2023 (MSGC ‘23) on Monday 13 February 2023, Dr McKorley intimated that as a stakeholder in the maritime domain, his major concern is safety and security of investment, and therefore, would be interested in measures that will address identified threats.
He added that an investor would only be assured to make more investments, when the policies and arrangements put in place by all stakeholders to confront these threats, are appropriate and comprehensive.
It would be recalled that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Secretariat entered into an agreement with McDan Group for the transportation of goods across the AfCFTA member countries.
The deal was signed at an official ceremony to launch AfCFTA’s Guided Trade Initiative in Accra.
At this signing ceremony, it was revealed that McDan Group is investing in cargo planes and sea freight vessels specifically to support the AfCFTA.
The acquisition of these vessels are just in line.
Apart from reviving the defunct Black Star Line, McDan Group also expects to create thousands of job opportunities when the facility begins operation.
McDan urged participants of MSGC 23 – Senior Officers/Students of the College’s prestigious 11-month Master of Science (MSc) in Defence and International Politics (MDIP) Course 44 – to excel in the course and practice, to join his setup in the future and be even more innovative than their distinguished current Generals.
He further urged the Military College to endeavour to merge academia and industry, since the global environment keeps changing so fast, and to scrutinize the AfCFTA, as a stakeholder in the maritime sector, in order to derive benefits from the treaty.
By Prosper Agbenyega