2021 was an eventful year for the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA). Several activities were undertaken during the year all in the bid to protect and promote the interest of Shippers (importers and exporters) across the country. Below are some highlights of the GSA’s activities during the period under review.
The GSA after establishing that demurrage payments to shipping lines in 2019 amounted to $27million and $39million in 2018 begun a campaign on educating shippers on ways to avoid the payment of demurrage. The GSA held seminars for shippers in the Ashanti, Bono-East and Ahafo regions in Kumasi. The seminar educated shippers on how to avoid the payment of demurrage to help increase their margins as well as ensure stability of the prices of goods on the market.
Also, the GSA in collaboration with the National Insurance Commission (NIC) organized a sensitization workshop for the leadership of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) on the Cargo Insurance Protocol.
The workshop marked the beginning of a series of sensitization workshops to be rolled out by the two organisations to create awareness of the protocol and to solicit the buy in and recommendations from the shipping public on the protocol. The GSA participated in an inter-agency Committee constituted to review the entire processes of Uncleared Cargo (UCL) Administration at the Ports. The Terms of Reference of the Committee were as follows (i) Identify the challenges of UCL administration at the Ports; (ii) Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for UCL Administration; (iii) Highlight other matters incidental to UCL administration; (iv) Propose appropriate recommendations on the way forward.
In its quest to sensitize and build the capacity of importers, exporters and stakeholders of the shipping and logistics industry, the GSA under the year of review held several sensitization /education for all its ten regional shipper committees spread across the country. Some of the topics that were presented include the International Commercial Terms (INCOTERMS) 2020 and benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). With support from the Bank of Ghana a forum was held on letters of commitments and letters of credit. The forum addressed some of the major challenges confronting exporters in their day-to-day business transactions and highlighted the introduction of the “ECO” currency. It was also attended by major stakeholders in the shipping and logistics industry.
The phenomenon of Uncleared Cargo at Ghana’s ports has persisted for some time and this has impacted negatively on the operations of specific stakeholders within the Port ecosystem. The Committee was therefore established to assist in eradicating this problem.
In collaboration with the Ghana Police Service the GSA organized sensitization seminars for senior Police Officers in Bolgatanga and Wa. The sensitization seminars formed part of a nation-wide program to sensitize the police on transit trade and its benefits to the national economy and the role of the Police in promoting trade along Ghana’s major transit corridors.
The GSA continued to keep close ties with its stakeholders. Some of the trade associations the GSA engaged during the period are; Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana (FFAG), Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, Customs Brokers Association of Ghana and ICUMS. The GSA held virtual meetings with the above bodies with the objective to discuss the concerns of various trade groups following the announcement by Shipping Agents of an increase in their Port Additional Charges following the limited tariff review by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
The major concerns of the trade groups were as follows: That the timing of the increment, especially the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic had worsened their plight was inappropriate; That freight charges globally were increasing and to compound them with the proposed increases could spell doom to their businesses; That the proposed increases had not been negotiated with the Authority; That if no action was taken to stop the increases, they would proceed on a strike action.
Others are, Dangme West Mango Farmers’ Association (DAMFA), Manya Krobo Mango Farmers’ Association (MKMFA), Wenchi & Kintampo Mango Farmers Association, Sunyani Greenfields Association, Yilo Krobo Mango Farmers’ Association (YKMFA).
Some of the issues that were raised during the interactions with the Trade Associations include: increase in freight charges and shortage of containers, proposed fees and charges of the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC), etc.
During the year, the GSA received and investigated a total of one hundred and eight (108) shipper complaints. Out of these, ninety-eight (98) of the complaints were resolved while ten (10) were at various stages of resolution. The complaints include request for refund, high clearing charges, high handling charges, damaged cargo liabilities, undelivered cargo, recalculation of CBM, requests for abandoned cargo, pilfering, exorbitant local charges, failure to refund for non-delivery of service, etc.
In accordance with the GSA’s efforts aimed at removing non-tariff barriers within the nation’s transit corridor, the GSA organised sensitization seminars for truck drivers and owners in Tema and Takoradi on 3rd and 23rd June respectively. It was to educate them on key regulatory regimes and road governance-related matters along Ghana’s transit corridors.
The GSA collaborated with Globe Productions and Graphic Business to organize the 4th Ghana Shippers’ Awards to acknowledge shippers and providers of shipping services for their contributions to the growth of the maritime and logistics sector. The Awards are aimed at distinguishing excellence in the trade and transport industry, to instill in industry players a sense of fulfilment and greater zeal to achieve higher laurels and encourage more transparency and compliance with laid down procedures in the trade and transport industry.
The 13th in the series of Maritime Law Seminars was organized by the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) for Judges of the Superior Courts of Ghana with support from the GSA. The two-day seminar was organised to build the capacity of the selected judges in maritime law for speedy adjudication of cases and to strengthen the bond between maritime commercial interests and the judiciary.
The Cocoa Marketing Company Ltd (CMC) and the Ghana Shippers’ Authority successfully organized the 2021/22 Annual Cocoa Negotiation Conference. After several deliberations and evaluation of the final positions of the shipping lines and analysis of the local conditions, vis-a-vis port charges, the increasing charter rates, container shortage, rising bunker prices and upon considerations of the various issues raised during the negotiations, the freight rates and Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF) for the shipment of cocoa beans from Ghana for the 2021/22 cocoa season were concluded as follows; Basic freight was increased by 5% while BAF was increased by 1%.
During the period under review, the GSA engaged itself in Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) activities and participated in several programmes as follows: Courtesy call on the AfCFTA National Coordinator, Dr. Fareed Arthur to discuss a possible collaboration between the Ministry of Trade and Industry, AfCFTA Secretariat and the GSA to sensitize shippers on the AfCFTA.
In line with efforts to facilitate trade, the GSA paid a courtesy call on the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Mr. Wamkele Mene.
The GSA intensified efforts at honoring its responsibilities to society in 2021. It embarked on several activities as a way of supporting or giving back to its stakeholders and society. It donated some items to the Chiraa Hospital in the Bono Region to assist in its operations. The items were one hundred and fifty (150) pieces of branded bedsheets, twenty-one (21) packs of toilet rolls, twelve (12) liquid soap (3 litres) and six (6) buckets of washing powder.
The GSA also handed over a 6-8 HP Outboard Motor in addition to a GPS and Fish Finder Device batties to the people of Ocansey Kope Community in Ada East District in the Greater Accra. The donation was to enhance the fishing activities of the community.
The GSA and its Chief Executive Officer were acknowledged for contributions to trade facilitation, the shipping and logistics sector, business development and corporate social responsibility.
The GSA was adjudged Trade Facilitation Company of the Year (2021) at the 4th edition of the Ghana Business Awards (GBA) held at Kempinski Hotel in Accra. It was in recognition of the GSA’s trade facilitation efforts.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GSA was named the CEO of the Year in the Public Sector category at the 4th Ghana Business Awards. The awards recognized her ardent role in leading the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, GSA to oversee major interventions to address concerns of shippers in Ghana and contributing to trade facilitation.
The CEO of the GSA was also honored with a Gold Business Leadership Award at the 4th Ghana Business Leaders Excellence Awards Ceremony organised by Top Brass Ghana.
Theses activities and many others are contributing to the attainment of the GSA’s mission of effectively and efficiently managing Ghana’s commercial shipping and to protect and promote the interests of shippers.