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When ISCOS was formed in 1967, one the Members’ interests, especially after the closure of Suez Canal was to protect and promote the maritime interests the Member States, namely Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Ports efficiency, quality and competitiveness of shipping services in the region are among the main interests of the current Member States of ISCOS they directly have a significant impact on the cost of doing business which ultimately affect the economic welfare of the citizens in the region.

This is due the fact that over 80% by volume and 70% by value of the global international trade is carried by sea. In Eastern Africa Region, 90% by volume and 80% by value of its international trade is carried by sea and it therefore passes through ports.

In the light of the foregoing importance of the maritime and inland waterways, ISCOS gave carriage of goods by sea and inland waterways its due weight by establishing the specific directorate to deal with matters related to Ports, shipping and marine transports costs (freight rates and other charges). In a nutshell, the directorates’ functions include, but not limited to:

  • Monitoring adverse changes within the shipping industry, ISCOS ports performance, freight charges and surcharges and other levies on the trade and advise the Member Governments and other stake holders on required interventions accordingly.
  • Training traders (in collaboration with not only ISCOS other directorates but also other organizations) in Member States matters related to appropriate use of INCOTERMS and establishments/support of the shipper councils for collective bargaining power.
  • Undertaking research, generation and interpretation of relevant statistics for use by stakeholders;
  • compiling statistical data with a view to advising the Governments on the level and structure of freight rates, port operating costs, conditions of marine carriage and other factors related to sea transport as well as land transport systems.
  • Promoting and coordinating the development and growth of a viable and efficient regional and coastal shipping industry
  • Promoting effective partnerships between governments and private sector in investment and management of deep-sea shipping, coastal shipping, multimodal transport, river and lake shipping services
  • Undertaking feasibility studies/investment appraisals on maritime/shipping related projects for financial assistance by the development partners
  • Ensuring ISCOS plays its role as regional consultative forum matters related to general rate increase (G.R.I), Vessel Delay Surcharges (VDS) or Port Congestion Surcharge(PCS) and other charges; as well as matters affecting ports productivity and the subsequent impact on unit transport cost;
  • Promoting Public- Private Partnerships (PPP) in shipping and shipping investments in the region
  • Advocacy for the harmonization of maritime policies for seamless flow of traffic throughout the region.