World’s maritime sector turns its eye on South Africa
Saldanha Bay: Tuesday, 08 December 2015
South Africa’s stature as a significant international maritime economy player is due to gain considerable extensive global focus in the next five years following to confirmation of its agency as the next host of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly in 2020.
The IMO’s Assembly is the highest governing body of the organization consisting of all member States. It meets once every two years and is responsible for approving the institution’s work programme, voting the budget and determining financial arrangements.. The assembly also elects the IMO council.
South Africa falls under ‘category C’ of the IMO Council as one of “20 States which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.”
Countries in the category include Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.
The inaugural hosting of the IMO assembly in South Africa, involving possibly as many as 230 countries, was announced by national Department of Transport deputy Minister, Sindisiwe Chikunga in Saldanha Bay on Monday.
She was hosting the first of a weeklong Ministerial 2015 ‘imbizos’ intended to facilitate direct interaction and robust engagement between senior Government officials, including Cabinet Ministers, with industry principals across the country’s economic sectors on current and planned projects.
Ms Chikunga is directly charged with supervision of among others, the maritime transport and manufacturing aspects of the nation’s Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) launched 14 months ago.
She said the IMO last Friday not only retained South Africa ‘member state’ status ahead of several African countries but also charged the country with responsibility for hosting the rest of the global maritime countries’ assembly in 2020.
“We have recently returned – last Friday to be precise – from the International Maritime Organizaton Assembly (2015) where it was resolved and announced that South Africa will host the 2020 IMO International World Maritime Parallel event.
A mammoth task
“The announcement places a mammoth task to the maritime industry of this country to speed up the implementation of Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) to enable us to showcase the same to the countries of the world, come 2020.
“We urgently need to establish a 2020 World Maritime Parallel Event Planning Task Team comprising of both public and private sector, which will ensure that South Africa and Africa’s opportunity is exhaustively utilized.”
Ms Chikunga said South Africa’s retention of its IMO Council membership status was “a victory (is) not only for South Africa but for our African continent.”
“The representation of Africa into these very influential organizations can never be overly emphasized. There is a massive potential for growth backed up by global statistics on Africa as the current epicenter in foreign direct investment given its young active population,” said Ms Chikunga.
She urged stakeholders in the maritime sector to begin preparing for the next IMO gathering due in two years’ time in preparation for the Assembly scheduled for South Africa.
Referring to the country’s new Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) campaign she said it was geared towards ensuring focused investment in maritime economy infrastructure development as a catalyst and incentive for further and expanded private sector involvement. She urged for greater cooperation.
“For us to become global players we noted the importance of investing in maritime transport infrastructure to attract shipping and shipping services to our shores. To achieve the people’s social contract we need to pull together as stakeholders to move South Africa forward.”
Monday’s maritime sector specific Ministerial Imbizo at Saldanha Bay was based on the coastal town’s port having been earmarked as among three of the country’s major ports intended to contribute to the country maritime economic sector development through new infrastructure development.
Attending the event were a host of key public and private sector players in the maritime sector, including Transnet’s National Ports Authority chief executive officer, Richard Vallihu, Ports Regulator CEO, Mahesh Vakir, and others; mainly from the gas and oil subsector, and ship manufacturing and repair subsector.
Ms Chikunga said: “Saldanha is one of our very strategic ports identified for Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) as an Oil and Gas repair hub for South Africa…and the success of the Saldanha Bay port project will translate into the creation of an estimated 15 000 direct and indirect jobs.
“In order to reach the target, come 2019, a minimum employment of 3 000 jobs per annum is required. This means we should at present be sitting on approximately 6 000 jobs created.
“Tantamount to this will also be a massive contribution to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) that is estimated at R18-billion once it is fully functional.
“We are cognizant of the fact that delays will cost the nation tremendously, (and) it is thus important that both business, parastatals and government have to find speed on infrastructure delivery as it determines the speed of employment and economic progression.”
Clip: Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga announcing the appointment of South Africa as a host of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly in 2020.