Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Thomas K. Alonsi

Ghana is considering joining a small number of countries practicing an open ship registry system.

A committee commissioned by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) to explore the possibility of Ghana adopting an open ship registry said the country is ripe for the system.

The nine-member committee, however, called for a comprehensive national maritime policy that will govern the industry if the country decides to change from a close to an open ship registry system.

This was part of recommendations in a report presented by the committee to the Director-General, Thomas K. Alonsi.

Ghana ready for open ship registry
Group picture of executives of GMA and the 9-member committee

Chairman of the Committee, Dr Kofi Mbiah, said, “We had to look at what was happening in different types of registries and…how the different registries work in different jurisdictions, generally looking at first, the history of ship registration in Ghana, where we have come from, what the associated legislative framework says and whether there was the need to reconsider the legislative framework.

“We also looked at merchant shipping vessels which was our focus, as against fishing vessels. We gave consideration to a number of factors with respect to the closed registry system, the new forms that have come and the open registry system.’’

He said the committee was guided in its work by provisions of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“We came to the conclusion that indeed, Ghana can adopt the open registry system but the country must put in place certain systems and structures to make it workable because out there, there is fierce competition as far as the open registry system is concerned and if Ghana is to make any inroads then we need to step up our marketing capabilities and also provide GMA with the wherewithal to enable it function effectively as far as the open registry system is concerned, the Committee chairman noted.

Ghana ready for open ship registry

Dr. Mbiah explained that main goal should be to maximise revenue through fees and charges.

“We have to be flexible as far as the employment issue is concerned to enable us to attract ship owners onto the register from all over the world – we can’t restrict them when we tell them to come and register.

“They may employ some of our nationals for starters, but they must have the freedom to be able to employ people from all over the world, which is a key means to be able to attract them onto our register,” he said.

Receiving the report, the Director General, Mr Alonsi, said the country is exploring the possibility of adopting the open registry system which will allow for the registration of foreign-owned merchant vessels in Ghana, “considering the dynamism and the global character of the shipping industry and related matters such as the economic benefits and the indispensable role of shipping in Ghana’s economy.”

He said the Authority carefully selected the committee members of their vast experience and special knowledge in the industry.

Mr Alonsi thanked the experts for their dedicated service and promised to study the findings and recommendations carefully to inform any future decisions.

The other committee members were Mr Mante, Dr York, Nana Boakye Boampong, Captain Inusah Abdul Nasir, Dr Wereko, Alfred Abebrese and Captain William Amanhyia.