Ref: Liberia’s representation and leadership to the maritime world must be the true reflection of the country’s maritime history, prospects and the sum of the professional quality and expertise within the ranks of its citizenry.
Dear Madam President:
Please accept my appreciation and sincere best wishes to your able leadership for steering the affairs of our nation, not without your tireless effort in re-defining the Liberian State as currently stable, peaceful and progressive State as opposed to the “Pariah State” once accused of supporting guerrillas and warfare with maritime fortune referred to by the international community before the administration of Your Excellency Madam President.
Madam President, may I reference a quote by His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations on the observance of 2015 World Maritime Day. He said, “Today, shipping is a modern, highly technical and professional discipline that requires a great deal of skills, knowledge and expertise from the maritime workforce”.
Madam President, the United Nations Secretary further stated that “A safe, secure and clean shipping industry can only be built on effective standards of education and training”
Madam President having said these, I am almost certain that four years later, His Excellency Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was reflecting on your State of Nation Address delivered on Monday, January 24, 2011 that we as Liberians, “must transition from a nation with the leading Maritime program to a leading Maritime Nation”. As a nation pursuing the drive towards being a leading maritime nation, Your Excellency will surely agree that we are not yet where we are proposing to be in terms of our maritime potentials, but at least we sincerely thank your leadership for initiating a very good and promising platform by partnering with the Liberia Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) to fully operate the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI). By this, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon’s statement of having a safe, secure and clean shipping industry built only on effective standards and education training will come alive in the case of Liberia.
Madam President, we are hopeful that the next leadership at the Liberian Maritime Authority can put a timeline to this milestone of Liberia’s maritime history. This move to optimize the quality of maritime education in Liberia is commendable and thus falls in line with your transitional agenda of moving from a leading maritime program to a leading maritime nation.
Madam President, however, other than this good intent of LISCR operating the Maritime Training Institute domestically, as a nation we have very little to show in terms ofstrengthening our maritime cluster amidst the growing demand for maritime trade, that requires modern and state of the art ports, port services, inland shipping or navigation, short sea shipping, ship building, port industry, marine equipment, marine services, cruise shipping, fisheries, off-shore tourism to boost our participation in international trade with much needed appreciations to our country’s currency.
Madam President, it will interest you to note, by the day, the competition in the maritime world is increasing. Other well-meaning nations are restlessly taking advantage of maritime trade in developing their economies with meaningful and demand driven maritime programs. For example, Germany generates 15 billion a year from shipping.
With much emphasis on the importance of strengthening our maritime cluster, other countries of the world are breeding their youthful population with cutting edge maritime related technologies, diversifying their future generation in various maritime portfolios, while landlocked nations are today positioning themselves in this promising maritime enterprise. A look at inspiring Nations like Mongolia, Bosnia and Moldova, people without coastline, is a clear message for Liberia, with about 580 km of coastline, to transition into a world class maritime nation.
Madam President, on account of our international maritime program, Liberia is competing with countries such as Panama and Singapore, nations with smaller populations almost like ours, but, owners of the world’s largest fleets. However, Liberia is ranked second in the world fleet management but first in service quality and the second largest donor to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). But contrary to these impressive records, our country’s maritime program domestically is far lagging behind. Referencing same to our domestic achievement will require effective standards and expertise in running our national program.
Madam President, as a nation, our ability to sustain the growth and transition from the success of our maritime program to a leading maritime nation in fostering an integrated maritime cluster in the years ahead depends on the choice of having a great deal of professional people with maritime skills, knowledge and expertise heading the maritime program. Will this be the surest way going about in becoming a leading maritime nation? Yes, Madam President it will therefore be the most effective and efficient way to go.
Madam President, a keen look at our counterparts in the maritime world such as Panama, Singapore, Marshall Islands, Japan, Ghana, Kenya and others, at the head of their maritime programs, you will see nothing less than professionals, people with maritime educational background. Madam President, Liberian can chart this same course. Madam President, you will agree with me that the maritime and shipping industry is highly technical and as such the head of the Liberia Maritime Authority should be a maritime professional versed with maritime matters and its interlocking pillars. If the question were the availability of competent Liberian maritime practitioners, Liberia does have!
Your Excellency, Madam President, there are Liberians who have received high quality education in Maritime Affairs at highly accredited maritime institutions on the globe, such as the World Maritime University, set up under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – an agency of the United Nations and thus possess knowledge and expertise, which is relevant for the Maritime Administration and the maritime cluster. Today, some of these professionals and trustworthy Liberians are working in high profile maritime related positions both locally and, for the most part, internationally.
Your Excellency, Madam President, Let our representation in the comity of maritime Nations be the sum of our name, Liberia a nation with inspiring maritime history.