Dakuku Peterside, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has said that the shipping initiative promoted by China to develop its international shipping connectivity across South East Asia, Africa, Oceania, Indian Ocean, will open up new opportunities for Africa to advance its economic tie with China.

Peterside, who was chairman of the 29th annual session of club of ports of the Crans Montana Forum in Brussels, Belgium, said that the new initiative known as ‘Maritime Silk Road’ comes with a lot of benefits for African continent.

The Maritime Silk Road refers to the maritime section of historic Silk Road that connects China to Southeast Asia, Indonesian archipelago, Indian subcontinent, Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, Egypt and Europe, and this route flourished between 2nd-century BCE and 15th-century CE.

The trade route includes South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. It overlaps with historic Southeast Asian maritime trade, Spice trade, Indian Ocean trade and after eighth century—the Arabian naval trade network.

He however charged African countries to be strategic in decision making in order to reap the rewards and avert some perceived risk inherent in the initiative.

“Whereas China is pursuing new transportation link throughout the Eurasia region and Africa to boost trade and enhance her economic status; Africa must key in to develop her port infrastructure, maritime assets financing and create jobs for her people,” he said.

He listed the potential threats to include the likelihood of ports being taken over by the Chinese to the detriment of Africans, adding that the initiative will create opening for African markets to be flooded with Chinese goods.

Peterside also said that Chinese policy may also affect port calls and hub decisions.

He warned that the oil tanker and gas markets will be affected by the construction of new pipelines that will connect Africa to China which will engender Chinese political dominance in Africa if not carefully managed.

He further charged Africa to do the needful to ensure her economic interest was fully protected.

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