SLPA hosts 1st PMAWCA board of directors meeting in Freetown

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Different Port Authority Directors pose for photo

By Yusufu S. Bangura 

The Sierra Leone Port Authority (SLPA) hosted the first Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) Board of Directors meeting in Freetown on May 28-29 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Aberdeen.

The meeting focused on addressing various challenges faced by the member ports.

This two-day meeting brought together the Managing Directors from six member ports: Gabon, Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, and The Gambia.

The agenda included assessing the results of 2023 activities, reviewing the 2023 audit report, and examining and approving the 2024 activity program and 2025 budget. Additionally, the Board discussed the draft program for the 44th council meeting to be held in Conakry in November 2024, along with ongoing projects and partnerships.

PMAWCA’s maritime network spans approximately 12,000 km of coastline, handling around 300 million tons of maritime import/export trade for the sub-region, excluding crude oil.

In his keynote address, Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Rex Bonapha, emphasized the importance of discussing and strategizing to enhance development and cooperation among member ports.

He pointed out that under President Bio, five key sustainable development priorities, known as the Five Game Changers, serve as a roadmap for national progress and prosperity. Bonapha highlighted the vital role of port authorities

in facilitating the import and export of agricultural goods and creating jobs for youth.

“To achieve the Five Big Changers, I propose regular knowledge-sharing sessions among member ports to share successful strategies, innovations, and best practices. Collaboration in training and capacity-building programs can strengthen our workforce’s skills and competencies,” Bonapha stated.

Yankuba A. Bio, Director General of SLPA, opened the event by thanking the President and Board members of PMAWCA, highlighting the privilege of hosting the meeting in Sierra Leone.

He noted that PMAWCA was established in October 1972 in Freetown under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). PMAWCA covers seaports along the West Coast of Africa, including Mauritania and Angola.

Bio emphasized that UNECA is a specialized maritime organization dedicated to cooperating and sharing best practices in port management and operations to deliver efficient, safe, secure, and environmentally friendly port services.

“Our mission is to improve the quality of port activities and services to promote sustainable socio-economic development in our countries and the sub-region. I look forward to productive meetings and effective solutions from our discussions. Let’s work together to strengthen our partnership for a prosperous future for our ports,” Bio stated.

Martin Boguikouma, President of PMAWCA, expressed his delight at returning to Freetown, emphasizing the symbolic significance of the location. He noted that the meeting aimed to collaborate on improvements for the ports, including enhancing interland connectivity with ports such as Bamako, Mali, and Guinea Conakry. He highlighted Sierra Leone’s 25% increase in port volume as a sign of progress.

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