PANAMA - Transport
Allard President, Maritime Week
Captain Orlando Allard is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology of the Santa María la Antigua Catholic University. He is President of the board of directors of the Private Sector Council for Educational Assistance (COSPAE); member of the board of directors of the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP) and on the board of directors of the National Institute of Human Development (INADEH). He is a member of the Maritime Chamber of Panama (CMP) and he has held executive positions for several years.
I received positive feedback at the conference from more than 40 high-level exhibitors from around the world. Moreover, there was a large audience in attendance. The main topic was how technology impacts the industry, and that has been addressed in all the conferences, covering subjects like how artificial intelligence will affect the logistics space. Hence, the main goal was to learn how Latin American ports are doing integrating technology into their daily operations. Additionally, shipping companies explained the challenges they have with new fuels, and in that regard, there was a company that was speaking of the new additives they are including in new fuels. Events such as this can help companies and their employees boost their knowledge and skills and we are achieving that, based on how the event connected shipping, ports, and logistic companies. We have to ensure that these areas work together if we want to create a successful industry.
We had some experts who gave a presentation about the steps that need to be taken. Panama’s maritime strategy for 2040 is the roadmap to transform the country into an international hub; it is vital for all stakeholders to understand how important the maritime sector is and what it can help Panama achieve. In addition, we need to identify if we are missing opportunities in the southwest coast of the US. Nearly 40% of the ships that arrive in Houston pass through the Panama Canal, and that demonstrates the ever-growing US-Panama relationship. We have to develop a strategy to strengthen our position constantly, and in that sense an important driver to consider is the agroindustry sector. The recently announced railway project will also play an important role in strengthening infrastructure and help Panama become an international logistics hub.
Right now, the best offer is from China, as a host of Chinese companies are willing to invest. With the investments that we have carried out and are planning to carry out, we know where we must head. An option would be creating a logistics corridor in Colón, for example.
Six years ago, I did a study for the Inter-American Development Bank, which addressed the question on how to increase the amount of young people working in Panama. Then, we realized that all the logistics sectors around the world had one problem in common— a lack of human resources. We compiled data based on the requirements, and we realized that the maritime industry was seeking technicians and professionals who could manage the logistics. There was a point when there were 30 Panamanians with master’s degrees in logistics and ports administration, even though we only had six ports. At present, we urgently need technicians and graduate students in order to be able to implement all the technology. Therefore, the role of universities is important, not just to produce graduates with master’s degrees and PhDs but also graduates of short-term programs that focus on technology.
We have to train more young people. An important goal would be to train more people in areas like technology. The EU, for example, recently presented an LNG program to train more people, and we will follow the same path and dedicate all our efforts in that area. On top of this, we are in talk with universities to develop partnerships and synergies between education institutions and the private sector.
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