Pretoria: 22 February 2016
South Africans might hurriedly get used to and settle permanently with the knowledge that their’s is a maritime country whose vast oceans remain central to its economic development into the future, according to Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga.
Ms Chikunga told mourners at a funeral of a senior manager of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Ms Sindiswa Carol Nhlumayo; in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend that the development of the country’s maritime economy – long suffering neglect yet with abundant economic resources – was now firmly in government’s national agenda and that no effort was being sparred by the State to ensure that requisite infrastructure, along with appropriate human skills were invested upon.
According to government estimations, South Africa’s oceans inclusive of an Exclusive Economic Zone equivalent some 1.5-million square kilometers along a coastline equivalent some 3900km, have the potential to contribute up to R177-billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and create more than one million jobs by 2033.
Ms Chikunga is the designated cabinet minister for co-ordination of South Africa’s maritime economic sector development and which effort is being pursued through the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) programme – a joint initiative between the State, the private sector as well as educational and research institutions.
Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) was launched in October 2014 targeting for rapid development over the next five years, five subsectors of the country’s maritime economy; Off-shore Oil and Gas, Marine Transport and Manufacturing, Marine protection services and Ocean governance, Aquaculture and Marine Tourism.
Ms Chikunga bemoaned the premature death of Ms Nhlumayo, an executive head of SAMSA’s Centre for Maritime Excellence; whom she described as having been a major contributor to both the country’s tourism strategy development as well as a key national figure in the promotion of development of the maritime economic sector.
Ms Nhlumayo (45), also a PhD candidate in maritime economy studies at the Sweden-based World Maritime University, as well as a multi-award winner inclusive of the Institute of People Management (IPM) “Business Leader of the Year 2015”, died of cancer on 11 February 2016.
Ms Nhlumayo had been central to development and implementation of national human resources skills development initiatives for particularly the maritime sector and had been instrumental in forging relationships between national and international education institutions inclusive of the World Maritime University that now has direct links with the Port Elizabeth based Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Since 2012 as many as 22 South Africans have read for Masters and Doctoral degree in maritime studies at the World Maritime University. In addition, several other South African youths, supported by SAMSA; are enrolled for maritime economy studies in Vietnam. Similar opportunities are currently being explored with institutions in the Phillipines.
Ms Chikunga said Ms Nhlumayo’s death was unfortunate as it came at a time when SAMSA was gathering speed with several of its promotional programmes of the country’s maritime economic sector and which has now seen commercial cargo vessels carrying the country’s flag for the first time in more than 30 years.
Two of these were registered late in 2015, while according to SAMSA Chief Executive Officer, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele; 12 others are currently awaiting approval.
For Ms Chikunga’s full remarks, view the video clip: (Warning: the deputy Minister’s entire speech is in isiZulu)