Pretoria: 24 March 2017
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the National Heritage Council (NHC) formally sealed their ongoing collaboration on arrangements in pursuit of maritime heritage awareness development initiatives with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Pretoria on Thursday.
The signing of the document marked the formalization of a relationship between the two organizations that has been in the making since about a year ago, following to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) formally having established an ongoing initiative to focus on development and enhancement of the nation’s awareness about its maritime heritage.
At Thursday’s event, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, acting CEO of SAMSA and Mr Sonwabile Mangcotywa, CEO of the National Heritage Council (NHR) described the formal ratification of the fledgling relationship as a critical point in both organization’s common goals towards enhancing co-operation and collaboration in the development and public awareness promotion about the country’s maritime heritage.
“It is imperative and long overdue that we formalise our agreement to co-operate and collaborate through a working arrangement such as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for general cooperation, and proceed to further enter into Memoranda of Agreements (MoA) for specific projects as and when one of the two parties may agree thereto”, Mr Tilayi and Mr Mancotywa said in a joint statement.
The pair described South Africa’s maritime heritage as a “backbone for our commerce, aquaculture, agriculture, arts and culture, sports and recreation, mining and other societal endeavours and pursuits”.
They further concurred that maritime heritage was the bedrock for beneficial partnerships in South Africa, the African continent, the African Diaspora and the world at large, and it was therefore “only natural that the two parties formalise their co-operative agreement to take this important work forward,” they said.
SAMSA and the NHC have been working together on maritime heritage since about a year ago and which partnership culminated in a joint public presentation of the endeavor during the 38th World Maritime Day in September 2016
Giving context to SAMSA and the HRC’s view of maritime heritage and the processes set in motion to enhance both its development and public awareness, they said that South Africa was the only country on the African continent with access and control over sea waters covering an area equivalent to 1.6 million km² with a coastline of 3924 km – from the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Southern Ocean to the Antarctic and Indian Ocean in the east.
The SA maritime economy contributed R19-billion to the country’s GDP in 2013, with projections currently indicating that it as likely to rise to around R44-billion in 2020.
Against the backdrop, there was “a great potential for this sector to contribute to the economic growth and participation of the majority of this country. Equally, the heritage that is weaved throughout this sector covers many years of history that uncovers how our forefathers utilised these water spaces.
“Shipwrecks like that of the SS Mendi remain evidence of SAs heritage for the world. The maritime sector also ranks high in tourism attraction which is also a good source of revenue and job creation for the country,” they said.
The partnership would see the two institutions, in conjuction with other institutions in the heritage, academic, corporate and related sectors; working together to “draw more African youth, women and people with disabilities to participate in the maritime economy through projects and following careers in the sector. Awareness campaigns will be embarked upon to educate the public about the opportunities in marine heritage as well,” the statement said.