With South Africa’s economic development plans now fully inclusive of the maritime sector wherein billions of rand are to be invested and thousands of jobs expected to be created progressively in the next decade, preparing properly prospective labour with accurate information on careers has come into sharp focus.
It is with that in mind that the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has stepped up its ongoing maritime sector public awareness campaign by developing a Careers Awareness Programme for high school learners across the country as part of its corporate social investment programme.
A week ago, Ngwenyathi High School on the rural outskirts of East London in the Eastern Cape province was the demonstration venue of the new online careers programme for high schools.
Ngwenyathi High School is one of only four maritime high schools currently in the province and is the first of two established with the assistance of SAMSA about a decade ago.
Targeted for the Careers Awareness Programme were Grade 11 pupils who were taken through the online programme by Ms Anne-Marie Stanisavljevic of The Education Agency together with SAMSA southern region manager, Ms Bongiwe Stofile and SAMSA CSI Manager, Ms Mapitso Dlepu
According to SAMSA, the programme is designed to allow high school pupils an opportunity to get a broad sense of what careers are available both in the maritime and other sectors in order to assist the young people in their choice of school subjects at matric level towards their selected careers.
The live demonstration of the careers programme at the East London school on Wednesday and Thursday last week coincided with South Africa’s president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa’s delivery of the country’s State of the Nation address.
During his speech in Parliament on Thursday evening, Mr Ramaphosa described the country’s maritime economic sector in terms of especially oceans’ economy as holding great promise for the country.
He said: “Since Operation Phakisa on the Oceans Economy in 2014, we have secured investments of nearly R30 billion and created over 7,000 direct jobs. The investments have been mainly in infrastructure development, marine manufacturing, aquaculture, and the oil and gas sector.
“Expected investment in the Oceans Economy over the next five years is estimated at R3,8 billion by government and R65 billion by the private sector. These investments are expected to create over 100,000 direct jobs and more than 250,000 indirect jobs,” said Mr Ramaphosa.
Earlier in the day in East London, according to Ms Stanisavljevic and Ms Stofile, the high schools targeted SAMSA Careers Development Programme is intended to provide high school learners with career guidance that will help them align their careers choices with their skills, personalities and capabilities.
The programme does not limit itself to maritime high schools or maritime related careers, but extends to just about every career youth may have an interest in, inclusive of related careers.
In the two videos below, the officials explain exactly how the programme works for high school learners both in the short and long term.
The first video reflects on the actual presentation of the programme to learners (+-3.30 minutes), a brief chat with Ms Stanisavljevic (+-3.00 minutes) and a response by Ngwenyathi High School’s deputy Principal, Mr Vuyisile Mtsewu (+-4.30 minutes).
In the second video (+-4.30 minutes), Ms Stofile of SAMSA expands on this and related projects the agency is engaged with on the field of youth empowerment particularly in the Eastern Cape inclusive of the presentation of tertiary level education bursaries to two of the Ngwenyathi High School pupils earlier this year.
Updated to include two videos of employees messages.(For these, please scroll down.)
Pretoria: 26 December 2018
It is often stated as a truism that time flies past quite quickly when fun is had, and that the opposite is just as true when the going is tough. Whether or not there be any truth in the claims, what is an indisputable fact is that with each passing year of existence, gains are achieved and milestones reached.
The same is true of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which clocked its 20th year of existence in 2018 and whose founding in 1998 has led to a series of achievements and milestones reached in especially the country’s maritime economic sector.
It’s an ongoing story repeatedly told as events unfold and whose chunks and snippets are to be found on this blog – a communication platform established in 2015 for the express purpose of information sharing with the public about SAMSA and its activities in pursuing and furthering South Africa’s maritime interests consistent with its mandate.
Indeed, in a hour long interview with an international publication in March 2018 and which was subsequently repackaged in video format for this blog’s audience, SAMSA’s Chief Operations Officer and acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi tells the story of SAMSA and some of its remarkable achievements and challenges in its 20 years of existence.
However, it is a history of performance commonly known and told also by stakeholders among them the main shareholder, Government, through the holding ministry, the Transport Department.
In the series of videos below, developed especially to mark SAMSA’s 20th anniversary during the course of the past year, Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, in congratulating the agency, tells of her experiences with SAMSA, as do several others, among them chief executives and other senior managers of private sector companies, foundation education pupils as well as SAMSA’s own employees.
The seven (7) videos range in length from about two (2) minutes 30 seconds to about 10 minutes, all with congratulatory messages to the organization. In addition, Mr Tilayi shares a message to stakeholders that mark the milestone of a 20 years toll by SAMSA in promoting South Africa’s maritime interests, among other issues.
Video 1: Mr Sobantu Tilayi [2:37)
Video 2: Deputy Minister of Transport – Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga [2:30)
Video 3: SAMSA Stakeholders Group 1 [10:00]
Video 4: SAMSA Stakeholders Group 2 [5:20)
Video 5: SAMSA Bursary Holders (Simon’s Town Lawhill Maritime Centre) [6.30]
It is not unusual for people working for the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – spread across the length and breadth of the country’s waterways – to be mistaken for workers of the popular Asian smartphone maker, Samsung; an apparent ‘mistake’ followed almost immediately by curious, yet polite requests for phone repairs or news of models planned for the future.
In fact, this is barely out of place considering that even the mention of the marine or maritime sector, for some people – a large number – conjures up thoughts and feelings related to marriage! ‘It’s marrying time?’
In a country that’s practically and literally maritime in its geographic makeup at the southern tip of Africa, surrounded by no less than three oceans (the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Southern Ocean to the south and the Indian Ocean to the east) with a coastline of some 3200 kilometers, covering at least four of the country’s nine provinces (Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal), and central if not crucial to it a 1.5-million square kilometers of an exclusive economic zone, it should come as a surprise the apparent low level of public knowledge about and engagement with the marine and maritime economic sector.
Reasons for this clear anomaly are varied yet not hard to fathom. Summarily, past political and economic activities generally exclusive for many, are to blame.
For this reason, in addition to statutory and necessary activities it conducts consistent with its mandate, inclusive of furthering South Africa’s maritime economic interests, SAMSA regularly and consistently shares as much information as is necessary and possible about its role as well as the general maritime economic sector to as many constituencies as can be reached.
It was for partly this reason also that earlier in 2018, SAMSA’s Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi took time to sit down with a couple of international journalists from the Oil & Gas Journal to explain what SAMSA’s role is in the country’s maritime economic sector and how this sector is shaped to contribute to the South African economy within context of the “New Dawn” concept now espoused by new leadership of the ruling party, the ANC.
In the hour long interview, which this blog was allowed to record, Mr Tilayi covers a whole range of issues involving the role of SAMSA – ranging from protecting the oceans’ environment, lives of seafarers as well as ships at sea, to initiatives on taxation and other legislative reforms, education, training and skills development, job creation and engagement with similar and relevant regional and international institutions including the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – all in the interest of promoting the maritime economic sector.
The video interview presented here is split into four sections of a 15 minutes duration per section.
The weather did not quite play fairly over the two days of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) festival at the port of Port Elizabeth at the weekend, leading to curtailment of some of the activities.
But it was still great turnout by thousands of people that filled the port for fun and games whose theme centred on greater public awareness and education on maritime issues.
The TNPA port of Port Elizabeth’s 2018 port festival was, as usual, the first in a series reportedly planned for some of the country’s major ports over the next few weeks, including Richards Bay, with the aim being to facilitate greater engagement between the ports and the general public for enhanced understanding and knowledge of aspects that make up the country’s maritime economic sector activities.
This year’s festival in Port Elizabth enjoyed support from a range of stakeholders including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which again featured its vessel, the SA Agulhas – a former research vessel that has been retuned for purposes of servicing the country’s national cadet training programme now under the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).
Another notable supporter at this weekend’s festival was the South African Navy which provided four of its vessels including two frigades, as well as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries whose fisheries monitoring vessel, the Ruth First, participated – adding to the great fun many festival revelers, many among them young children, enjoyed.
Also present was the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), the Nelson Mandela University and several others.
However, strong winds particularly on Saturday, the first of the two days of the event, proved a major challenge as it forced some of the water sports lined up for the weekend to be suspended – well until Sunday, after the strong winds subsided in the early part of the day.
Women empowerment but particularly the previously disadvantaged is gaining momentum in South Africa’s maritime economic sector, boosted this time around by the launch of a study bursary being offered to young black women keen on maritime studies.
The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the country’s newest institution entrusted with among other things; the country’s national cadet training programme, is behind the initiative announced two months ago.
In a statement (below), SAIMI announced the opening of applications for the bursary and whose deadline is 10 December 2018.
SAIMI Statement (Issued Wednesday, 21 November 2018)
WITH only two percent of the entire world’s maritime workforce consisting of women, a new bursary scheme announced by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) plans to unlock the oceans economy for women in South Africa.
The Sindiswa Carol ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo Merit Bursary is now open for young black women wanting to pursue a qualification at a South African university to develop their career opportunities in the maritime sector.
As head of the Centre for Maritime Excellence at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the late Nhlumayo played a pioneering role in putting maritime skills development on the map in South Africa, in particular by empowering women in the sector, and championed the establishment of SAIMI.
The Sindiswa Carol ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo Merit Bursary is offered for maritime, marine or related studies at undergraduate and postgraduate level at any tertiary institution in South Africa. The bursary is open to South African black women (African, Coloured and Indian) under the age of 35 years.
The bursary is available for a wide variety of maritime-related study fields including Marine Engineering, Oceanography, Logistics, Shipping, Ocean Governance, Environmental Law, Geological Sciences, Zoology and Marine Ecology to name just a few.
SAIMI Project Manager Odwa Mtati said the bursary aimed to continue the work of the late Nhlumayo by encouraging women’s meaningful contribution to the maritime sector, and particularly to bolster the participation of young black women.
“Her role was pivotal in the promotion of women’s participation in the maritime sector. She also played a critical role in establishing SAIMI, and the bursary scheme in her name honours her contribution to growing South Africa’s skills capacity in the oceans economy,” said Mtati.
SAMSA Chief Operations Officer Sobantu Tilayi encouraged women to apply for the bursary scheme in Nhlumayo’s honour. “We thank SAIMI for acknowledging the legacy and role that Sindiswa played in the human capacity building of the South African maritime industry,” said Tilayi.
During her time at SAMSA, Nhlumayo initiated the National Cadet Programme that enables South African seafaring students to obtain the professional qualification for careers in the global shipping industry.
In 2013 she was a recipient of the Oliver Top Empowerment Award for Best Female Public Servant. At the time of her death in 2016 at the age of 45, she was enrolled for a PhD in Maritime Affairs at the World Maritime University in Sweden.
Recipients of the Sindiswa Carol ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo Merit Bursary will have the full cost of their tuition fees and textbooks covered. They will also be afforded opportunities to attend SAIMI conferences and other maritime-related events, as well as participate in organised bodies supporting women in maritime and science.
The closing date for applications to the Bursary Scheme is 10 December. To apply, download the application form from the SAIMI website:
Current groups efforts aimed at strengthening shipping safety and security around Africa’s oceans area a welcome, due development in the fight against piracy and other crimes but risk being seriously undermined by a duplication of efforts , the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has warned.
SAMSA’s concerns were shared with about 65 delegates attending the International Maritime Organization (IMO) three day workshop of signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct in Durban this past week.
According to Mr Boetse Ramahlo, an Executive Head for Legal and Regulations unit at SAMSA, South Africa through the agency’s representation – along with 11 other African countries on the Indian Ocean – is a member to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) while also a signatory to the IMO Djibouti Code of Code.
On assessment, he said, both groupings – with cross membership dominated by countries subscribing to both – offered safety and security programs and approaches with basic commonalities in their approach to crimes affecting shipping.
The situation, he said, not only carried the risk of possible wastage of highly limited financial, human and time resources of member countries, but also held the potential of raising and abating unnecessary competition.
Mr Ramahlo confirmed that South Africa would soon be also signing the DCoC Jeddah Amendment following to conclusion of necessary consultations in the country. (see last video clip towards the bottom of the article)
“One of the most important principles in the Djibouti Code of Conduct (2009) and its Jeddah Amendment (2017) is the importance of involvement of international support as given the nature and complexity of piracy, no single country can amass the vast resources needed to wage a successful fight against crimes affecting shipping.
“The illegal activities we are out to combat are transnational, and for us to be able to fight them we need regional and international cooperation,” said Mr Ramahlo
An absolutely crucial aspect of international support, he said, was that it needed firmly to be informed and driven by regional needs, and that the existence of non aligned groups in the same region yet with the same common goals and objectives would simply weaken such support.
He said IORA had recently established a safety and security unit with more similarities than differences to those goals and approaches envisaged and being pursuit by signatory countries to the DCoC and its Jeddah Amendment
“As South Africa, we are members of both. As functionaries of government, the question now asked by authorities is why is this situation prevailing where members states of these two groups work in isolation.
“We are hard pressed to explain why there is this duplication,” said Mr Ramahlo. To avert unnecessary complications that were likely to rise due to the situation, South Africa proposed that IORA and GCoC signatories should explore, as a matter of priority, the possibility of working far much closely together, he said.
For Mr Ramahlo’s full presentation on the situation, Click on video below.
GCoC Jeddah Amendment Action Plan developed and adopted
Mr Ramahlo’s remarks came on Wednesday, the last of three full days of engagement and discussions among some 65 delegates a majority of whom were from the 21 signatories of the GCoC, and which activity both the IMO and South Africa as a host, described as having been highly fruitful.
Key issues included an action plan for development and enhancement of information sharing centres to advance maritime domain awareness among both member countries as well as regional and international role players – this in the interest of strengthening safety and security of shipping around Africa and globally.
Summing up the progress achieved, Mr William Azuh, IMO’s Head for Africa Section of Technical Cooperation, said both the turn-out of more delegates than anticipated, as well as the intense engagement of everyone contributed to development of an action plan to ensure and effective implementation of a programme for enhanced shared communication and greater marine domain awareness among affected parties.
Describing the action plan agreed upon as only the beginning of a process, Mr Azuh said the IMO held the view that the outcomes of the workshop could be adopted as a template for development of programs for application regional and possibly globally. He urged delegates to continue to share information even with those countries that were not represented.
“Spread the message that this is what we did in Durban, and that we can work together.” he told delegates in a closing address. Mr Williams further thanked both England and South Africa for the support given the event.
(This blog will provide a full outline of the Action Plan adopted at the Durban Workshop as provided in a separate exclusive full length interview with the IMO’s Mr Kirija Micheni“
For Mr Azuh’s full remarks, Click on video below
South Africa takes pride in hosting IMO workshop
Meanwhile, South Africa through the Department of Transport and its agency, SAMSA expressed appreciation for the selection of the country as a host of the GCoC Jeddah Amendment Workshop.
Speaking on Wednesday, Captain Ravi Naicker, Senior Manager for Navigation, Security and Environment at SAMSA, contextualized the staging of the workshop in South Africa and explained its perspective as a crucial development in the strengthening of safety and security of shipping along Africa’s oceans.
South Africa for its location at the tip of continent and surrounded by three oceans, the Atlantic to the west, the Southern and Indian Oceans to the south and east respectively, provides a particularly important international shipping passage whose safety and security can’t be taken for granted.
For his full remarks Click on video below.
Equally impressed by the staging of the event in South Africa, thereby providing opportunity to several of the country’s internal security agencies, was the South African Polices Services (SAPS)
SAPS’s Captain Mandla Mokwana said as part of the border security agencies of the country, the police’s participation at the workshop allowed it opportunity to gain useful information on marine domain safety and security activities taking place in other countries. His full remarks here:
Meanwhile, in earlier remarks expressed during a welcome dinner for the delegates on Tuesday night at the Durban’s uShaka Marine complex, Mr Dumisani Ntuli, acting Deputy Director General, Maritime Directorate at the Department of Transport said South Africa took pride in its contribution to both regional and global maritime sector development endeavors linked to its active membership of the IMO.
He said the IMO DCoC Workshop in Durban was a precursor to among other events, South Africa’s hosting of the 2020 IMO International World Maritime Parallel event, expected to be attended by as many as 230 countries.
“We would like to see you all return to South Africa for that event,” he said.
Also speaking on behalf of SAMSA, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer, said: “It is always a great pleasure for SAMSA to have people that you partner with as a country in the various areas that we interact in. It is important that as a country (South Africa) and other countries, that we plan such that our economies are always protected.”
Greater awareness coupled with effective communication and sharing of information was vital in that process, he said.
For Mr Ntuli and Mr Tilayi’s full remarks Click Here.
In the video below, Mr Ramahlo who also expressed a word of gratitude both to the IMO and delegates to the conference, formally confirmed South Africa’s readiness to also become a signatory to the DCoC Jeddah Amendment 2017.
The virtual elimination of piracy along eastern oceans of the African continent over the last few years – thanks to a concerted highly collaborative international effort – is no reason for the continent to relax.
Other serious crimes involving and affecting international shipping and impacting global trade remain a constant threat and present danger, delegates to a three day International Maritime Organization (IMO) workshop in Durban, South Africa heard on Monday.
Mr William Azuh, head of the Africa section of the IMO’s technical cooperation division, told dozens of delegates from countries many of which are signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) that while collaborating actions to deter piracy had largely been successful: “Make no mistake about this, the pirates are not done yet.”
Mr Azuh was speaking during the first of a scheduled three day IMO workshop for countries in Africa that are members of the IMO’s anti-piracy Djibouti Code of Conduct and its revised version, the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), hosts of the workshop along with the Department of Transport (DoT), the DCoC is a regional counter piracy programme with the main objective of repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Aden and West Indian Ocean regions.
However, the revised version – the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’ – has since expanded the scope of the DCoC to include all acts of criminality in the maritime environment, including illicit maritime activities such as human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
According to the IMO, the Jeddah Amendment “recognizes the important role of the “blue economy” including shipping, seafaring, fisheries and tourism in supporting sustainable economic growth, food security, employment, prosperity and stability.
“But it expresses deep concern about crimes of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity, including fisheries crime, in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Such acts present grave dangers to the safety and security of persons and ships at sea and to the protection of the marine environment.
Crucially, says the IMO; “The Jeddah Amendment calls on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea”.
“This will include information sharing; interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such crimes; ensuring that any persons committing or intending to commit such illicit activity are apprehended and prosecuted; and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers involved as victims.”
The three day workshop in Durban that began Monday morning is the first of its kind for the Africa region aimed at finding agreement and drawing up action plans for establishment of national and regional maritime information sharing centres for improved maritime domain awareness.
Maritime domain awareness (MDA) is described as constituting three aspects; situational awareness, threat awareness and response awareness. For effectiveness to the benefit of a wider community, MDA needs to exist at national (country), regional (continental) and international level.
In Durban on Monday, Mr Azuh said the vastness of the global maritime domain was such that no region or country in Africa or elsewhere was totally safe and crucially, no region of the world could act alone in efforts to combat crimes at sea that impact global shipping and trade.
“Without the understanding and effective management of the maritime sphere, we all labour in vain,” he said, adding that maintaining the success achieved to date against piracy in a sustainable manner, was dependent on meticulous implementation of IMO guidance and best management practices.
For Mr Azuh’s full remarks click on video below.
Mr Azuh’s remarks were shared by Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer of SAMSA who on behalf of the South African government under the auspices of the Department of Transport, welcomed the delegates to the country.
Mr Tilayi said it was significant that South Africa was hosting the event relevant to its role in both regional and international maritime matters and precisely those include ensuring safety of people and property at sea.
He said ever evolving advances in communication technology were among tools that needed to brought into the fray towards strengthening safety and security of shipping and South Africa has quite a contribution to make in this regard. He enumerated the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth as among research institutions in the country that were making a significant contribution.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks, Click on the video below:
The issue of maritime sector shipping safety and security was a concern not only of countries with direct access to the oceans, according to Mr Timothy Walker, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria.
Speaking on “Making Safer Seas for Africa” said piracy at sea and armed robbery of ships had a direct and immediate impact on global trade which involved all countries of the world.
But also, he said, inland waters across countries in Africa were not excluded as there vast areas of these waters that were used for shipping and therefore remained attractive to criminals.
For the reason, cooperation to improve security of the marine domain was of equal economic benefit to everyone hence the need for awareness needed to be fully inclusive of interested and affected parties.
Mr Walker’s full remarks:
Meanwhile, after a full first day of deliberations, workshop coordinator, Mr Jon Huggins expressed satisfaction with both the intensity and focus of the deliberations, expressing hope that by day three on Wednesday, there would be clarity on a plan of action forward.
For Mr Huggins’ full remarks, click on the video below.
The development of a cadre of knowledgeable personnel with high expertise in the management of illegal fishing in South Africa and in the rest of the continent has been given a further boost with the allocation of an additional financial support of about R1-million by the Norwegian government.
The additional funding confirmed earlier this week will go to the Nelson Mandela University (NMU)’s Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy (a.k.a FISHFORCE) established in 2016.
The academy was set up at the NMU through a R50-million financial support, over five years, by Norway with the goal of establishing a core of graduates with knowledge and expertise in the management of illegal fishing as well as contribute to development of effective strategies.
On Monday, Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybø in the company of South Africa’s Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom; visited the NMU for the signing of a bilateral agreement cognizant of the additional R1-million funding.
Ahead of the signing ceremony, during the launch of an African Youth Waste Network early on Monday, Mr Alf Yngve Frisso, Counselor of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa said the additional funding would go towards training of port security officers – a category of key personnel that was not covered in the initial funding bilateral agreement with the NMU.
“These people work 24 hours a day at the ports and a lot of them do not have training in identifying fish species and different types of fishing crimes. The additional funding will go to the NMU FishForce Academy in order to increase and enhance these officials level of knowledge and expertise.” he said.
The beneficiaries of the Norwegian government support would not be limited to South Africans only, but would include other African countries, he said.
For more on this, click on the video below.
Norway commits additional R2.8-million to fight against plastic pollution
Meanwhile, Ms Nybø (38), on her first visit to South Africa, said collaboration between Norway and South Africa on strategic interventions in oceans management and related endeavors remained important to her government.
Addressing guests attending the launch of the youth network, Ms Nybø said she her government was impressed by both the initiative to rope in youth in the war against plastic waste pollution, as it was by the research, education and training undertaken by the Nelson Mandela University.
On plastic pollution, she said given realistic prospects that there would be more plastic at sea than fish in the near future, and that Africa would become the most polluted area of the world and a major contributor to plastic waste pollution, Norway’s government commitment to efforts to eliminate plastic waste pollution would be demonstrated through a direct investment of some 1.6-million Norwegian krone (R2.8-million) over the next three years.
To listen to Ms Nybø’s full remarks (about 08.20 minutes), please click on the video below.
Seventeen years from now, Africa must be rid of the menace of plastic waste infesting particularly the oceans surrounding it, that is the ambitious target the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) is setting itself in the global war against plastic waste.
That is according to its lead member, the Port Elizabeth based non governmental organization, Sustainable Seas Trust, which this week launched an initiative called the Africa Youth Waste Network to rope in the continent’s youth in the battle against mounting plastic pollution all across Africa.
The youth initiative is part of a broader campaign by the SST and AYWN that is financially backed by the Norwegian government and which has already seen the establishment of an African Marine Waste Academy in Nelson Mandela Bay earlier this year.
Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Isebin Nybo together with South Africa’s Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom were among high profile guests in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday for the launch of the youth initiative.
Other guests included local government officials as well as academics from both the Nelson Mandela University as well as Norway’s University of Bergen.
Some scholarly ongoing research findings shared at the event depicted a dire picture of the highly negative impacts of plastic waste, particularly that which enters the African continent’s oceans.
Among the findings was that not only was plastic waste reaching the oceans now at unsustainable levels, but also that certain fish species were already feeding on it and in the process, posing a real and immediate high risk to both human and other creatures lives that feed on fish.
According to (SST) CEO, Dr Anthony Ribbink, time for talking about the pending disaster was over and target dates had to be set for defined action to show results, hence the group has set 2035 as the year on which Africa will be rid of plastic waste and resultant pollution.
Central to the strategy for cleaning up and eventually eliminating plastic waste will be the engagement of particularly youth across the continent through the newly set up network, combining it with ongoing academic research, but also a development of economic opportunities to both manage and get rid of plastic waste.
Key role players will include municipalities across towns and cities of the continent.
According to Dr Ribbink, the first target African city for the major clean up campaign will be Nelson Mandela Bay whose deadline for reaching a zero plastic waste status has been set even more tighter, as 2021.
“We want to make sure that Nelson Mandela Bay becomes the first city in Africa to reach zero plastic waste by 2021 and the local municipal government has committed to the target.”
He also announced that the African Marine Waste Network with 42 members countries across the continent will hold its second conference in April 2020 and during which concrete plans for the rest of the continent will be shared.
In the video below, Dr Ribbink explains the thinking.
Meanwhile, Ms Alexie Kalenga, coordinator of the AYWN explained the rationale behind the active engagement of especially young people in the Africa war against plastic waste.
She said recent population statistics indicated two critical aspects about Africa’s population: that young people aged between 16 and 25 years hold (225-million as at 2015) constituted about 60% of the continent’s population and about 19% of the world’s population and were therefore the largest majority by far.
But crucially, this figure was projected to almost double to 456-million by 2055, thereby reflecting a rapidly growing population, with huge implications for waste generation and management as, she said, waste accumulation had been proved to be a function of population size.
She said the network was intended to be an active platform for collaboration, resource and knowledge sharing among young people across countries.
“It’s a youth driven initiative that aims at zero pollution and clean seas by 2035.
In the video below, Ms Kalenga shares more detail.
Cleaning up and ridding South Africa of particularly plastic waste that eventually lands up at the country’s oceans to the disastrous peril of sea life, is going to be the next big war to be waged intensely by Government in collaboration with society, says Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom
Mr Hanekom confirmed this while attending the launch of an initiative to rope in and actively involve African youth in the war against plastic waste, as well as the signing of yet another collaboration agreement between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Both the launch of the African Youth Waste Network by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) as well as the collaborative agreement signed between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University on Monday to strengthen and expand education and training related to ocean’s management, are seen as key components to strengthening South Africa’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative to rejuvenate and grow the country’s maritime economic sector.
SST is Port Elizabeth based South African non governmental organization that is part of the African Marine Waste Network launched in South Africa in 2017 with 42 member countries across the African continent.
The launch of the African Youth Waste Network (AYWN) on Monday is part of a comprehensive Norway government sponsored program by the African Marine Waste Network, led by SST, to actively fight the scourge of marine plastic waste across the continent.
Mr Hanekom, as acting Minister of Environmental Affairs following to the passing of away of Ms Edna Molewa recently, is currently responsible for the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched for years ago.
However, as also Minister of Tourism, effective waste management in the country is a major interest in his portfolio.
Mr Hanekom, in the company of Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybo among others, applauded the launch of the youth network initiative on Monday and expressed appreciation of the Norwegian government’s continued support of both the youth initiative as well as the Nelson Mandela University’s education and training campaigns.
He said South Africa, like most others countries in the world, faced a mammoth task of managing effectively the scourge particularly plastic waste in the country in order to curb and eventually prevent its negative impacts on both the environment as well as people’s health.
With over 50% of all plastic in the country being in the form of single use packaging, Mr Hanekom acknowledged that South Africa had lost momentum in the fight against plastic waste after the initial introduction of levies on consumer plastic bags years ago.
Now, he said, the forward strategy currently under consideration through policy would encompass three components; curbing plastic generation at source, implementing effective ways of plastic usage, and developing meaningful ways of managing plastic waste.
Mr Hanekom said the first component – dealing with plastic at source – would ‘without doubt’ draw the ire of plastic producers who would argue strongly against job losses. However, he said this would not be an unusual argument, as had also been experienced in debates about strategies on renewable energies.
“Chemical weapons are a no-no! Chemicals weapons are not allowed and the whole world is against their production. There is no arguing that, well, we got to continue producing chemical weapons otherwise we are going to lose jobs. It does not work that way.
“You’ve got to bite the bullet at some point, and understand the gravity of what you are dealing with, and say if we can’t continue doing this, whichever angle you approach it from…..that somewhere, we have to take some tough measures.
“You will always lose jobs when you migrate from one sector to another. It is happening with coal mining.”
Crucially, he said, something needed to be done in South Africa to rid the country of mountains of plastic waste now entrapping and eliminating life in the oceans and increasingly threatening people’s lives.
The second component would require actively bringing about public awareness as well as engagement, while the third component would aim at eventually eliminating plastic waste through innovative economic schemes.
Mr Hanekom said: “In the next few weeks, as part of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) we will be launching a national clean up campaign. It will be a big national effort about awareness and about people being actively involved, from the President, Ministers, Premiers and MECs, MPs and all public representatives.
“When this campaign is formally launched by the President, what is going to be expected of all us public representatives at all levels, is to go out there, dirty our hands and clean up the country at the same encouraging communities to actively participate.” he said.