By Chidubem Anthony
Africa and Europe should have in place measures that would mitigate the potential risk elements in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including trade imbalance in favour of China and the country’s control of trade infrastructure, notwithstanding its huge capacity to enhance global maritime transport.
Making this call during the just ended Dubai Maritime Summit 2018, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, described the BRI as a game changer for global transport, which would substantially affect the pattern of global commerce.
The initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is a Chinese Government’s development strategy aimed at enhancing regional connectivity through infrastructure development and investments in Europe, Asia and Africa, and will give the country a lot of leverage in the global market place.
According to Peterside, the “Chinese policy will affect port calls and hub decisions, which may adversely affect ports of Africa and Middle East.
Also, “Chinese political influence and dominance, leading to the reintroduction of Sino-centric order, is imminent, while the tanker market will shrink substantially, as pipelines across continents will be the preferred mode of transportation of oil and gas.”
However, the benefits of this economic initiative outweigh the risks, a statement by the NIMASA Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, cited Peterside to say.
In same vein, panelists at the event were unanimous that the initiative would open new global markets in commerce, improve connectivity between modes of transport, enhance speed and efficiency at ports, open new international trade routes and boost technology transfer.
They included the Managing Director of Precious Shipping, Khalid Hashim, Chief Executive Officer of King Abdallah Port, Rayan Qutub, Chief Executive Officer of Drewey, Tim Power, and CCO of Abu Dhabi Ports, Ross Thompson. BRI is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature policy that basically aims to boost trade and economic integration among member-countries through investments in roads, pipelines, ports, communication networks and other similar infrastructure that promotes connectivity.