International shipping is driven by fierce competition. The history of maritime trade within Africa's coastal waters has been characterised by foreign exploitation since the early colonial era. Today, the African Union (AU), through its 2050 Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy, plans to implement new cabotage laws to finally liberate the continent's maritime transport industry from foreign dominance. However, certain barriers must first be overcome, including increasing the capacity and efficiency of Africa's maritime industry. This paper evaluates the AU's proposed introduction of pro-African cabotage laws focusing on their economic potential and regulatory implications. It also highlights core challenges posed by Africa's struggle for greater economic liberation of its coastal waters.