One of the key aspects of developing a thriving African ‘Blue Economy’ is to see the growth of effective African-owned marine fuel operations supplying high quality fuel products at competitive prices to seafarers in African waters.

This is the view of Jon Hughes, Managing Director of SABT, a wholly African business operating in over 50 ports around the African coastline, and it reflects the objectives of the 2050 African Integrated Maritime (AIM) Strategy. Adopted by the African Union, the AIM Strategy highlights the importance of curbing illegal oil bunkering which creates losses of billions of dollars every year. The AIM Strategy also focuses on critical development of the continent’s maritime sector to increase international trade and maritime infrastructure, as well as competitiveness and job creation.

“SABT has an African solution to providing professional marine fuel services,” Hughes comments, “For years now we’ve proved that shipping around the African coastline can be safe, efficient, competitive and profitable.”

In its efforts to play a role in developing local marine sector industries, SABT works to provide a secure, competitive alternative for the African shipping market. “Unlike many offshore players dabble occasionally in the fast opportunities that arise, SABT has focused on becoming an African specialist. We focus on establishing long-standing relationships with local operators, transferring skills and knowledge, and increasing financial gains for legitimate local businesses which are otherwise overwhelmed by lack of resources and the trade in poor quality black-market oil products.”

With more than 90% of Africa’s exports and imports conducted by sea, and the volume of global sea trade quadrupling over the last forty years, implementing the strategic plan to develop a sustainable ‘Blue Economy’ is now critical in order to channel the big business of the oceans into more African economies and hands. The AIM Strategy identifies that fifty-two of Africa’s more than one hundred port facilities can handle containers and various forms of cargo. African-owned ships make up only 1.2% of world shipping by number. African ports currently handle approximately 6% of the world’s sea-faring cargo traffic and only about 3% of the global container traffic.

The opportunities for growth are clearly massive. Hughes says, “The growth of a legitimate, efficient African marine fuel supply sector is sorely needed to gain the confidence of the international shipping market and optimise on the obvious development opportunities in Africa. Shipping is an industry fraught with risk and high expenses. You are not going to venture to places where you don’t feel sure that you can secure the quality fuel products you need, on time.”

For the vision of creating sustainable wealth from African waters to be become a reality, reputable African marine fuel supply businesses need steady, multi-sectoral support from the African countries where they operate. The growth of professional local marine supply operations will enable them to take firmer hold in the African shipping market and marginalise the illegal operators who dominate in some of the vital economic areas around coast, especially the Gulf of Guinea.