Provision of a Common Platform

ISCOS provides Member States and the region at large, with a common platform for structured dialogue and articulation of cross border and Transnational Shipping and Logistics matters affecting the region. ISCOS, with a regional mandate covering the surface and marine transport logistics, public and private sectors and with over 50 years built experience in Shipping and Logistics, continues to be the most ideal platform for addressing Shipping and Maritime matters affecting the region as a whole. During the half a century of existence, ISCOS has provided and indeed continues to provide this much need regional platform where Member States and stakeholders at large deliberate on matters of common concern and interest, resulting in the adoption of common positions on how to deal with national, trans-border and International shipping issues, and providing a framework for the adoption and harmonization of Maritime policies in the region. ISCOS’s platform also helps Member States to appreciate each other trans-boarder shipping concerns, resolve inter sate issues, derive common approaches with regard to multinational service Providers, and generally contributes to the development of harmonized Policies for the facilitation of trade to and from the region.

Generation of Expert Advice

ISCOS provides Governments with expert advice on trends and emerging issues in the Shipping and Logistics Industry and on Topical and Cardinal matters affecting the Shippers, Governments and the industry stakeholders.  Expert Advisory opinions range from cited developments in the Shipping industry, technological, socially or politically inspired developments; International adopted Policies and Practice, as well as emerging and researched best practice in the Industry.  The current wave of localizing Marine Cargo Insurance, seeking to the retain in the region more than US $ 800 million per annum, is an initiative based on ISCOS’ Advisories. ISCOS also advises Member States on the commercial implications of the maintenance of the safety and security of maritime transport services including matters relating to integrated coast guard services, port state control and joint search and rescue operations and sustainable exploitation of marine resources through blue economy initiatives.

Mobilization of Shipper's Bodies

Despite the concept of Shippers Councils being global, it has been the role of ISCOS to introduce the concept in the region and assist in the formation of National Shippers’ Councils. Beyond its Member States, ISCOS has also been behind the formation of Shippers Councils in Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Malawi and Mozambique and continues to play a central role in building institutional capacity, coordinating their activities and assisting their collective mandate to lobby national, regional and multinational service providers for competitive shipping services. The concept of Shippers’ Council is a global one, whose presence in many parts of the world is in tandem which the concept of collective bargaining  power and the belief in international trade as one the important drivers of economic emancipation especially in developing economies.

Demystification of Maritime Concept in the Land linked States

Despite the existence of bilateral understandings and arrangements between the Member States, as well internationally recognized rights to the sea, land linked countries still look at ISCOS as a reliable representative of their interests in the highly complex shipping area. ISCOS has and continues to intervene especially on matters regarding Ports, ICDS/CFS, Intermodal and Multimodal freight transport systems and other cross cutting issues. In turn, this should also assist coastal countries to have a better appreciation of the requirements and sensitivities of their Port transit markets, facilitate increased confidence in the use of transit corridors and lead to enhanced regional collaboration. Land linked countries still regard shipping as a Costal concept, and ISCOS through its activities continue to demystify this through coherent programs which include encouraging school going population to pursue shipping careers. In addition, ISCOS is assisting Members especially the land linked States to adopt/accede to the relevant International maritime conventions, particularly those concerning safety of life and property at sea, carriage of goods by sea, oil pollution, marine environment protection and ships and ports safety and security.

Capacity building of Shippers

With due recognition that Shippers’ sensitization is important in creating awareness on matters of International Trade and Shipping, ISCOS runs a coherent sensitization Program, both at regional and national levels, including company specific and customized based trainings.

With over 200 regional and national sensitization workshops conducted in the region so far, ISCOS believes in the Shipper (importer and exporter) as the central entity in the Logistical Chains. Sensitization programs take cognizance of emerging issues in International Trade, and cover a wide range of important areas including International Commercial Terms, best practices in International freight logistics, import and export dynamics, Risks associated with Surface and Maritime movement of freight as well as innovations and developments which generally affect the movement of cargo from overseas through ports to hinterland countries and vice versa.

Increased shipper awareness contributes to the appropriate use of International Commercial Terms, mitigates delays and penalties due to ignorance, promotes port fluidity and better use of port facilities, reduces incidences of loss of cargo, enhances seamless flow of goods and generally reduces the cost of doing business.  

Real Time Support

Despite the various regional initiatives to enhance seamless flow of trade, such as the Single window systems, One stop border posts, simplified  customs and clearance procedures, Road and Railway infrastructure upgrades, Cargo tracking technology etc, shippers still encounter several unstructured challenges in the Logistical chains. The inevitability of these challenges demands that shippers need continuous support and monitoring, in order to ensure that hindrances to the flow of trade, whether in terms of NTB’s or inadequate policies are resolved. ISCOS being the Organization with a regional mandate in shipping logistics, is in the best position to serve shippers both within the Coastal states and across the transit markets in mitigating issues both at policy and incidental level.   In addition to physical accessibility to ISCOS Service points along the Dar, Northern and Central corridors, ISCOS is reachable through other technology enabled platforms and Applications.

ISCOS has developed an Information and Support Platform for Shipping and Freight Logistics dubbed “ISCOS Shipplinc” to facilitate real-time reporting, monitoring and resolving Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) as well as providing information to shippers regularly.

The platform is accessible via an app that can be downloaded freely by Android and iOS operating systems. The platform also has an information segment that allows users to make inquiries and get in the loop with the latest information about regional trade corridors, port key performance indicators, Maritime piracy/Maritime crime, etc. which are fed into the platform regularly. The platform is again supported by back-office Freight Logistics experts who are available to interact with and support shippers on an instant and continuous basis.

Monitoring Ports Performance and Advising on Ports Productivity

Port productivity affects the efficiency with which international trade moves to and out of the region. Whenever this efficiency is interfered with, there are associated costs both from increased lead times and delays, the result being surcharges by shipping lines which are passed on to the ports users.  Consultation with ports authorities on matters affecting port productivity and the subsequent impact on off take and unit transport cost is one of ISCOS activities. ISCOS continues to work with port authorities and other stakeholders in creating an enabling environment for the seamless flow of traffic in all ISCOS ports through:

  • Monitoring ports’ performance and performance indicators,  with a view of raising early warnings and alerting concerned parties on adverse trends, in order to avoid  port congestion, Vessel Delay Surcharges (VDS) or Port Congestion Surcharge(PCS) and other charges which all impact on increase in unit transport costs;
  • Promoting mechanisms and developing strategies aimed at improving the flow of traffic through the ports through benchmarking and information sharing and expert advisories,
  • Being part of the port improvement initiatives not only for Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, but including inland ports such as Port bell, Mwanza and Mpulungu. ISCOS consistently advises on the improvement of infrastructure at Port Bell and Mwanza as a conduit to utilization of cheap lake transport between the two ports, and as a complement to the use of the Central Corridor transit route. ISCOS is also a Member of the Port Improvement Committees for Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, and is a signatory to the Mombasa Port Chatter.

Mitigation of unfavorable pricing mechanisms applicable in Shipping and Trade

ISCOS provides the region’s interface with the Shipping Lines calling in the ISCOS Ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. In particular, and in regard the Shipping Lines, Freight rates and Surcharges applied on Trade, ISCOS:

  • Conduct consultations with shipping lines, ship owners, operators of shipping lines and other related bodies concerning freight rates, destination charges and other related costs and conditions in Maritime transport;
  • Monitors adverse changes within the shipping industry which may result in the imposition of surcharges and levies, and holds dialogues with the Shipping Lines and Ports with a view of mitigating the same, and may advise Member Governments and other stake holders on required interventions as may be appropriate.
  • Acts as an early warning centre on shipping matters, by providing statistical and economic analysis of maritime transport and inland waterways sectors;
  • Compiles statistical data with a view to advising the Governments and other stakeholders on the level and structure of freight rates, port operating costs, conditions of marine carriage and other factors

Research & Statistics

Research is vital in making informed decisions which is why it is paramount when undertaking advisory role.

  • Undertaking research and 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 transportation;
  • Carrying out studies upon request of any of the Governments;
  • Undertaking research, generation and interpretation of relevant statistics for use by stakeholders including Government while determining policies which affect shipping and International trade.

Advocacy for Policy Harmonization

Cross border cargo movements involve different regimes which may have different policies. Inconsistencies in rules and procedures between adjoining states hinder seamless flow of goods and services. ISCOS works towards harmonizing trade and transport rules and procedures in the region by:

Advocating for the harmonization of maritime policies for seamless flow of traffic throughout the region.
Advocating for streamlining cross border processes and mitigation of none-tariff barriers.
Undertaking consultations with stakeholders for the adoption of common position by Member States on maritime matters and/or in multilateral negotiations with third party countries or international and regional maritime organizations;

  • Participating in strengthening intra-regional cooperation for each category involved in maritime transport, shipping companies, ports and port operators, shippers, clearing and forwarding agents and cargo consolidators;
  • Intensifying consultations between the contracting parties and cooperation between the maritime administrations with a view to harmonizing and improving the operating conditions of the entire maritime transport system;
  • Defining and advising contracting parties regarding sector based policies and common standards in the fields of shipping services, development of indigenous Multimodal Transport Operators (MTOs), port operations and modalities of enhancing services to landlocked countries;

Promote Trade and Investment

All sectors grow through investment and proper management. ISCOS advocates for shipping industry growth through:

  • 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
  • Promoting Public- Private Partnerships (PPP) in shipping and shipping investments in the region

Marine Safety

The importance of safety and security for the Maritime sector is as important as it is in other sectors served by the human resource. It is the duty of ISCOS to:

  • Advise Member States regarding vessel inspection requirements with the view to improving the safety of shipping and the protection of the marine, river and lake environment;
  • Advise  Member States on commercial implications of the maintenance of the safety and security of maritime transport services including advising on matters relating to integrated coast guard services, port state control and joint search and rescue operations;
  • Collaborate with  National Maritime Administrations international rescue missions and security surveillance  bodies on the safety of Shipping business on the high seas,
  • Provide stakeholders a consultative forum on emerging challenges in Maritime Transport such as Piracy, Pollution and safety at sea.