The safety of oceans around South Africa along with the country’s level of preparedness for maritime risks come under the spotlight at a two-day sector workshop in Durban this week.
Organized by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the two-day workshop on Wednesday and Thursday is scheduled to explore a variety of maritime risks issues ranging from an overview of the country’s maritime risk profile involving case studies, the country’s legislative framework and institutional responsibilities, third parties dependencies, to maritime domain awareness, pollution monitoring and combating, the country’s response capability as well as funding.
As many as 20 participants inclusive of experts in specialized fields of the maritime time sector drawn from industry as well as SAMSA, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) are lined up for contribution and discussions over the two days.
The event comes at a time when ship traffic volumes are reportedly on a steady increase around South Africa over the last few years leading to economic opportunities that include the recent establishment of a bunkering services in Port Elizabeth, one of South Africa’s nine commercial ports and reputably the most secure for the service.
There is also a notable increase in oil and gas exploration and related activities in the country’s oceans opening to unique opportunities and risks that the country must prepare for.
SAMSA, a State owned entity established 20 years ago and operating under the guidance of Department of Transport, is the country’s dedicated authority responsible for ensuring the safety of property and people at sea, the combating of pollution of the oceans’ environment by sea traffic as well as promoting South Africa’s maritime interests domestically and globally.
Among processes involved in monitoring activity across the three oceans surrounding South Africa, SAMSA operates a Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) based in Cape Town. SAMSA’s CSWR is responsible for carrying out search and rescue functions over a 27-million km² oceans area abutting the country’s 1 300km coastline, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Southern Oceans in the south and the Indian Ocean to the east.
SAMSA’s CSWR is also charged with implementing systems for surveillance of the maritime domain, inclusive of vessels safety, vessel security, oil pollution prevention, detection and combating, maintenance of the maritime domain awareness as well as monitoring coastal and offshore maritime activities.
Tools in place include terrestrial and satellite automatic identification systems involving both long range identification, tracking and monitoring of ships and other vessels within South African territorial waters (a 200 nautical miles area within the country’s exclusive economic zone) and beyond, in order to maintain safety and security to navigation threats, marine environmental threats and assistance with search and rescue.
In pursuing these activities, SAMSA’s CSWR collaborates with a range of entities both in the private and public sectors inclusive of the South African National Defense Force, the SA Navy, the State Security Agency, the Department of Transport, Border Management Agency and others.
In Durban on Wednesday, the two days workshop’s programme on South African maritime risks is scheduled to kickoff at 9am with an outline and analysis of the country’s maritime risk profile by Mr Brian Blackbeard of the Atlantis Consulting group and involving a feasibility study on of the country’s emergency towing vessels.
He will be followed by SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi’s overview of the weather incident that rocked the Durban port a year ago and during which extensive damage to ships as well as pollution ensued.
Next in line with a review of current legislation related to maritime risks by Captain Gustav Louw (SAMSA) and exploration of vulnerabilities of the South African Maritime Risk System) by Messrs Mike Heads and Nick Sloane.
In the discussion on third party dependencies, Mr Andrew Pike and Mr Dave Main are scheduled to share insights gleaned during the incident of the sinking in 1991 of the Oceanos, a French-built and Greek-owned cruise ship due reportedly to uncontrolled flooding while sailing off the Wild Coast (Indian Ocean), as well as a look at costs of maritime risks management involving the exposure of the State to uninsured rogue ships transiting South Africa’s coasts.
The rest of the discussions involving Messrs Lauren Williams, Captain Theo Oakes, Dr Stander, Gavin Fitzmaurice, Terence Mabuela and Captain Ravi Naicker will look at maritime domain awareness issues including oceans and coastal management information management systems capabilities and usage, South Africa’s weather services capabilities, completeness and key challenges relating to provision of services in the maritime sector.
They will also discuss the country’s hydrography in relation to current incidents and the country’s maritime risk profile. They will also share insights into hindrances to successful maritime prosecutions, incident management organization as well as existing capabilities related to sea watch and rescue.
This SAMSA blog will carry updates on the discussions over the next few days.
With global recognition increasing about the dangers of plastics waste pollution particularly on the world’s oceans, closer collaboration among role-players remains crucial to success in combating the rapidly expanding menace.
At least that was the dominant message flowing from this year’s observation of World Oceans Day in Durban at the weekend – a two day event hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in collaboration with several institutions including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
SAMSA is charged statutorily with responsibility for the monitoring and prevention of pollution by ships at sea all around South Africa, an area spawning more than 1.5-million square kilometres and over which the country has interest in as an exclusive economic zone.
In Durban over two days, from Friday and Saturday, several institutions across the public, private, higher education, research as well as community sectors gathered under one roof at a hall located at the harbour for an exhibition as well as a public awareness campaign focused on sharing information about the menace of plastics pollution.
The first day was almost exclusively dedicated to high school pupils in the Durban area while the following day was open to members of the public and for whom, another major attraction was country dedicated marine research vessel, the SA Agulhas II.
In addition to maritime careers information for the school pupils, both groups were taken through various information sharing sessions on the importance of the country’s marine resources as well as the absolutely crucial need to spare the environment of pollution, and of which plastic waste was the most dominant currently across the world.
They were also taken on a tour of the country’s dedicated sea research vessel, the SA Agulhas II ahead of its departure to the Antarctic region with supplies for the research stations there, as well as further studies by a group of marine scientists on board.
According to Ms Keshnee Pillay, a marine scientist in biological oceanography at the Department of Environmental Affairs, greater collaboration among all stakeholders and roleplayers engaged with the plastics waste pollution campaign, is crucial to future success.
In the following video, explains why the focus of this year’s World Ocean Day celebration had to be on plastics pollution particularly as it affected the oceans and other marine environment.
This is a complete wrap up of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 3rd leg in Cape Town, South Africa two weeks ago. The glamorous global yacht race -a.ka. the F1 Race of the Seas – is currently leaving Melbourne for Hong Kong (Tuesday morning, 02 December 2018) and carries aloft its masts, a crucial message about the increasing swelling of the world’s oceans with micro-plastics.
The theme of the race is Turn The Tide Against Plastics
Cape Town: 03 January 2018
The world’s maritime sector is stepping up its fight against pollution of the seas, with particular focus currently being on plastics pollution of the oceans, and in the mix of tools being deployed in the war is water sports.
At the pinnacle of the world’s water racing sports codes now fully engaged against oceans plastic pollution is the Sweden driven global yacht race, the Volvo Ocean Race; a multi-billion rand oceans yacht race equated to the Formula One (F1) annual car racing event, and run every two years across the world’s oceans over a period of just over 260 days at a time.
The 2017/8 Volvo Ocean Race is currently underway, having kicked off with seven yachts in Portugal in November, with a stopover in Cape Town 20 days ago, and now presently departing Melbourne in Australia for the 6000 nautical miles 4th leg towards Hong Kong, which the yachts should reach in about 20 days (20/1 January 2018).
On arrival in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront for the South Africa leg on November 24, topping celebratory activities to mark the two weeks’ stopover lasting until 10 December, were two, two-day United Nations-driven conferences focused on collaborative efforts for sustainable oceans management
Following to these in the second week, was also a two-day Volvo Ocean Race sponsors’ Oceans Summit on proposed global cooperative actions for the combating of the growing menace of plastics pollution of the world’s oceans that’s said to be increasing at an alarming rate.
Put differently, seven (7) full working days out of 14 of the Volvo Ocean Race stop-over in South Africa from 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017 were devoted entirely to discussions and information sharing on sustainable oceans management as well as current and proposed actions to combat plastics pollution of the world’s oceans.
Crucially, organizers of the separately staged yet thematic-linked discussion forums were emphatic on the importance of the use of the Volvo Ocean Race as a creative tool to draw the general public’s attention to the oceans management issues, but also as an ideal platform for information sharing particularly about the problems of plastics pollution of the world’s seas.
The Volvo Ocean Race now in its 13th edition since launch 42 years ago is a major drawcard to a global mixed audience of millions of people in 113 countries, and shored up by more than 8000 hours of global television coverage with an average media value of 47.5 euros (2015 values). Corporate sponsors also number in the thousands.
In Cape Town alone, an estimated two-million people take time out to watch the race or visit the yachts’ yard during the two weeks stop over at the iconic V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, located at no more than a kilometre off the foot of Table Mountain, at Victoria Bay.
According to organizers, the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 edition is the first of its kind to focus attention on plastics pollution of the oceans, and its involvement goes beyond providing a platform for publicity and discussion, but also involves direct participation by the racing yachts in collecting scientific data on the extent of the spread of plastics at sea as well as their impact.
A number of scientific consortium are involved in the problem solving endeavor, among them the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), JCOMMPS, UNESCO-IOC, GEOMAR and SubTech.
In partnership, the agencies use the Volvo Ocean Race to collect both meteorological and oceanographic data for a better understanding of oceans weather patterns, but also for the first time, use of instrumentation for the measurement of CO2 as well as collection of samples of microplastics increasingly swelling the seas waters.
In the following three videos recorded in Cape Town two weeks ago, Ms Celine Greuzard, Communications director of the Volvo Group, Ms Anne-Cecile Turner, the Sustainability Programme Leader of the Volvo Ocean Race and Mr Richard Brisius, President of the Volvo Ocean Race explain the rationale of the involvement of the global yacht race in the maritime world’s fight against oceans plastics pollution.
In the following four videos, Mr David Green, chief executive officer of the V&A Waterfront shares his organization’s perspective of and role in the Volvo Ocean Race to South Africa, while Mr Bruce Parker-Forsyth, MD of Worldsport shares the South Africa perspective of the race to local socio-economic development, and Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) explains the role played by the State agency in monitoring and combating oceans pollution by ships, in terms of both local legislation as well as conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to which South Africa is a member.
In the next two videos, Dr Ivone Mirpuri of the Portugal based Mirpuri Foundation – and contributor during the Volvo Ocean Race Cape Town Oceans Summit – and Mr Ulrich van Bloemenstein of the Department of Environmental Affairs share their views of the event.
Meanwhile, South Africa which in 2017 became the venue of several continental and global meetings on plastics pollution of the seas, these including an Africa Oceans Plastic Pollution Seminar over five days, should see more increased action in the coming year, according to Ms Silindile Mncube.
She is the South Africa leader of the ‘Let’s Do It’ international NGO involved in plastics pollution combating initiatives.
During the Volvo Ocean Race Oceans Summit in Cape Town, she shared the NGO’s plans to actively getting involved in South Africa and the rest of the continent, with the launch of a dedicated “plastics cleanup day” during 2018.
And finally, in the last three videos below; is an overview of the UN Sustainable Oceans Management two-day conference that also involved a visit to Robben Island….
followed by Mr Adnan Award, South Africa director of the International Oceans Institute (IOI) who gives an overview of the entire oceans management and pollution combating gatherings held during the Volvo Ocean Race’s South Africa leg….
and Mr Rafe Axelson gives local boat building industry’s view of the importance of the race to the sector locally.
For videos of the UN Sustainable Management Conference, Click Here, and for more general videos and photos of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 South Africa leg, Click Here.
Durban beaches will be ready for thousands of revelers this festive season after a successful clean-up of millions of tiny little plastic pellets known as nurdles that polutted almost the entire eastern coast of South Africa after the break up of containers containing the pellets during a freak weather storm that battered Durban recently.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Friday in a statement spelling out progress achieved to date with the clean-up.
The SAMSA statement reads:
December 08, 2017: As the festive season approaches, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) along with Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Transnet National Ports Authority (TPNA), and the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) are optimistic that KwaZulu-Natal beaches are ready for bathers and holidaymakers.
Authorities have been working tirelessly around the clock to retrieve a total of 2000 bags that were carrying plastic polyethylene nurdles lost from containers following the storm on October 10, 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal.
The storm wreaked havoc causing several deaths in and around the province, as well as extensive damage. It further caused destruction at the Durban harbour when several ships lost their moorings, and four shipping containers fell off vessels.
A Joint Operations Committee, attended by SAMSA, DEA and TNPA has met regularly reporting on the progress of the clean-up. While the Durban Harbour has been declared safe and clean, the authorities are still monitoring the area. So far at least 3,5 tons of nurdles have been recovered.
The clean-up teams have worked around the clock to ensure that the Durban beaches were ready for the festive season.
The JOC confirmed this week clean- up operations will now be concentrated on the north coast as heavy deposits of nurdles were spotted on the Northern lagoon banks.
The MSC has appointed local firm Drizit Environmental who have been storing the nurdles at their depot in Jacobs, Durban, and were using several clean-up teams round the clock.
The clean-up has moved from the Durban beaches, towards the North Coast beaches, namely Clarke Bay, Granny’s Pool (second clean-up), Shaka’s Rock, Thomsons Beach, Mvoti beach, Villa Royale beach, and Ballito main beach.
Areas which have also been prioritized are the Tugela Mouth Lagoon and the Hatchery Lagoon.
SAMSA’s principal officer based in Durban Captain Hopewell Mkhize confirmed that the clean up process was progressing well.
“Drizit has assured us that they will continue in their efforts to ensure that the critical beaches are treated as priority, and that their they are declared safe for use before December 10, 2017.”
Mkhize said the clean-up process will be ongoing. Some areas have been recharged with nurdles and having to be cleaned again. “The situation will be monitored for now before the decision to stop is made.”
Additional resources and personnel provided by DEA have been brought to sites, and are assisting to speed up the clean-up operations. During the clean- up operations different types of plastics, not emanating from the containers, were also spotted.
Mkhize said an ROV Survey was completed to scan the bottom of harbour area to ensure that none of the nurdles bags were trapped underneath. The investigation found nothing.
A model study was further undertaken looking at the currents, the tides, and the wind to confirm the possible places where the bags could have gone. The clean-up teams were busy with the targeted areas and also focusing on the projections of the model results.
SAMSA was overall pleased with the clean-up process and welcomed the efforts by the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working for the Coast program to clean up the shorelines.
The support from volunteer groups who have assisted with the clean-up efforts, and the public at large has been greatly appreciated. There have been reports received of nurdles washing up on beaches in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. These reports are of great concern and are being addressed, the DEA said.
Fairly advanced first world waste management methods may be attractive but may have one crucial weakness – an apparent severe limitation in terms of generating employment opportunities.
That is among important issues some participants at this year’s African Marine Waste Conference currently on in Port Elizabeth are grappling with, this against the backdrop of high unemployment rates in developing countries in Africa, including this year’s conference host country, South Africa.
Mr Thabo Magomola, a director for monitoring and evaluation at the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and a member of a project team tasked with the establishment of a Waste Management Bureau to manage the implementation of the DEA’s strategic waste management programmes such as the Industry Waste Management Plan, is among participants at the African Marine Waste Conference consumed with the subject of future waste management strategies and job creation.
Presenting on a topic themed Circular economy employment and SME development in southern Africa, Mr Magomola suggested that there was a missing link between much need job creation in Africa and current and future waste management strategies.
This required creative thinking and solutions responding to developing countries’ need for job creation rather than whole adaption without adaptation of first world methods in waste management.
According to Mr Magomola, an expected population increase in South Africa in particular, by as much as eight (8) millions people by 2030, but with further projections that in that period, the segment of South Africa’s youth (15-29 age group) will have risen to more than 15-million, with largely black youth between ages 15-34 year’s old currently unemployed and with little prospect, this presented a massive challenge for job creation across sectors.
‘If left unresolved this trend poses the single greatest risk to social stability. Goal 8 of the (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals seeks the creation of decent work and economic growth. The African Marine Waste Network in conjunction with Government and other roleplayers can realize this objective through the adoption of relevant best practices which can be found in Africa,’ he said.
He cited as an example the recent launch of a Recycling Enterprise Support Programme by the Waste Management Bureau of the DEA as one initiative towards finding balance between the two key issues: best practice waste management programs and job creation.
Ahead of his presentation at the conference this week, The 10th Province blog caught up with to squeeze more out of him about the subject.
Africa’s youth want in on solutions to waste management
Mauritian, Mr Rick-Ernest Bonnier, a Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders patron and marine education specialist in his home country, is among dozens of young people making up the more than 200 high profile delegates attending the African Marine Waste Conference in Port Elizabeth this week and there is a reason. Young people should be part of the solution finding initiative, he told this blog on the sidelines of the conference.
In the two (2) minutes video below, he explains why.
With more than 150 million tons of plastic material floating across the world’s oceans – and likely to rise to 950mt in 30 years – and with very little being done about it, the world is facing an imminent ecological disaster, scientists told delegates at a conference on marine waste currently underway in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
The African Marine Waste Conference 2017 began on Monday with about 200 delegates and will end Friday, with its main aim being to encourage development of concrete plans to turn the tide on plastic and related waste being dumped willy-nilly by nations bordering the continent’s coastline.
Dr Linda Godfrey, a manager of the Waste RDI Roadmap Implementation Unit at the Centre for Science and Industrial Research (CSRI) in South Africa, one of the early speakers on Monday, painted a disturbing picture of particularly the African continent with regards both its current status on waste management as well as imminent future challenges that could make the task of eliminating plastic waste more difficult if not arrested effectively, soon.
She said the continent was largely characterized by poor landfill practices, general poor waste management, uncontrolled dumping compounded by a rapidly growing population of middle income people who were increasingly migrating to predominantly coastal cities.
“Africa is at a watershed, in that if we do not stop and take action now, we are going to be faced with a massive marine waste problem locally, regionally and the potential impact globally. And there are essentially seven reasons that I see for why we should take action now,” she said. For Dr Godfrey’s full remarks (lasting about 4.30 minutes) Click Here.
For her full conference presentation in audio only, Click Here.
There is no such thing as waste. We know enough!
Dr Godfrey’s presentation correlated with that by United States scientist, Dr Sylvia Earle, a multi science awards winner and founder of Mission Blue as well as a National Geographic Explorer in Residence.
Plastic waste was not necessarily disastrous and instead a great economic opportunity if it was managed effectively through recycling, said Dr Earle.
She said lack of knowledge about the effects of plastic waste dumping particularly in the oceans was no longer an excuse as its effects were now fully understood.
“Most of the oxygen that we breathe is generated by the oceans. Ocean creatures take up carbon dioxide, a carbon dioxide that is important for photosynthesis generating food.
“But too much of a good thing is not only harming the oceans, by making the oceans more acidic, by warming the planet. The carbon dioxide and other gasses such as methane are accelerating the warming of the earth, causing polar ice to melt, changing the climate, changing the weather, changing the one place in the universe that is our home, the only home that humankind – seven billion of us – will ever have.”
She said the conference currently underway in Port Elizabeth was a good opportunity to not only share the knowledge at hand about the effects of plastic waste in the oceans but to also explore creative solutions necessary to effectively manage waste.
For her full remarks (about 4 minutes), please Click Here.
Operation Phakisa (“Waste Economy” ) on the cards for South Africa!
Meanwhile, it emerged that South African authorities were not only looking at increasing plastic waste management practices soiling its own three oceans characterized by 3200km of a coastline and some 1.5-million square kilometers of an Exclusive Economic Zone but also it intended taking full economic advantage of it.
Dr André Share, head of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) in the Department of Environmental Affairs revealed that an Operation Phakisa Waste Management initiative in the offing and would be rolled out soon.
“Very soon, we will have a Waste Phakisa, and there we will unpack not only what we are doing with the waste, but also looking at how we turn this waste into opportunities and look at the whole secular economy in respect of waste.”
Dr Share in an opening speech delivered on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, said the launch of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative three years ago was incrementally showing positive returns in terms of investment in both ports infrastructure and related private sector investments in a whole range of projects across the country’s coastline.
“However, these developments, and indeed coastal development in general must be balanced with a need to ensure the health and integrity of our coastal and oceanic resources.
“Our oceans are under threat from pollution both from land based activities and sea based activities.
“The entire oceanic ecosystem is exposed to a wide range of pollution sources, such as illegal dumping practices, spillages from ships, waste disposal from port dredging operations to mining operations, and the discharge of sewage and storm water agricultural run-off and litter from land based sources.”
This he said, was despite the existence of stringent rules and regulations for all of the pollutants finding their way into the seas.
Dr Share said a sectoral approach was necessary to find a way to manage the waste streams and a “waste Phakisa” was on the cards to address the issue.
We are here to learn: Indonesia government official
The Port Elizabeth 2017 conference has attracted attention from several countries across the world, with representations from both Africa, Oceana, the US as well as European countries including Norway.
Indonesia deputy Minister for the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Dr Satri Burhanuddin said his country delegation was attending the conference to learn about what solutions Africa might come up with that would be useful in his country for implementation.
“Africa is more like Indonesia. The middle class is growing and growing and so we actually face the same problem. So we want to learn also how Africa faces this problem.”
For Dr Burhanuddin’s remarks (about 2 minutes) Click Here
With the fire that raged for days on board the APL Austria docked at the port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth now effectively extinguished, the vessel’s rescue has entered a mop-up phase during which debris and contaminated water filling up some of its cargo holds will be dispersed with, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported overnight.
“The good news is that the fire on board is completely extinguished and port operations continued as per normal (with) two additional large container ships docking at the port today (Wednesday) where for a while no ships were allowed into the port while the APL AUSTRIA was on fire” said Captain Daron Burgess, SAMSA’s technical manager for the Southern Region.
According to Capt. Burgess the mop-up involves removal of damaged containers and containment of their content. The teams will also drain out approximately 3000 cubic meters (three thousand) of water, ash and residue inside of No.4 cargo hold of the vessel – a disposal that will be preceded by a scientific analysis of the water to determine its toxicity and related pollutants to the environment prior to dumping.
“The plan is that if the water contains no marine pollutants, then it will be transferred into ballast water tanks on board. However, if containing marine pollutants, we will have to re-assess the situation and most probably will have to discharge ashore in approved receptacles and to be disposed of according to DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) requirements,’ said Capt. Burgess.
Meanwhile, he said; two (2) fire experts had already begun inspecting the vessel to try and establish what caused the fire that ensued on Sunday afternoon while the APL Austria was sailing westward in the Indian Ocean alongside the South African coast towards the Cape Peninsula.
According to SAMSA’s Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, the Liberia flagged cargo vessel was approximately 30 nautical miles south west of Jeffreys Bay – some 50-70 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth – when it raised an alarm about the fire on board at about 5pm.
The MRCC redirected the 72 000 ton, 280m wide vessel back to the port of Port Elizabeth overnight and later had it dock at the port of Ngqura by Monday where rescue operations both on board, on the ground as well as on water, got fully activated; with the vessel’s crew having been successfully evacuated.
Last night, Capt. Burgess said initial inspection indicated that there was not much damage caused to the vessel itself by the fire. “No visual structural damages to No.4 cargo hold at this stage,’ he said adding that there were still about 16 containers remaining on board (ROB) on deck on top of No.4 hatch – two of which appeared to contain rice (25kg bags) and smoldering. “The plan is to discharge (these) ashore tomorrow and douse with water and de-stuff into skips – no immediate danger,” he said.
“There are also about 10 containers aft of accommodation (not at all related to fire) to discharge to accommodate replenishment of CO2-Room with 400 x 45kgs CO2 cylinders. The area is presently covered by these containers as it is situated aft of the accommodation and underdeck,” he said.
For continued maintenance of a safe working environment and to prevent any possible pollution of the seawater around the vessel, containment booms would stay deployed while overflows of contaminated water off the vessel would be sampled for analysis.
“All parties are satisfied with the progress of operation,” said Capt. Burgess.
A week ago Tuesday, more than 200 people from South Africa and Norway’s maritime economic sector gathered in a conference room of the Dolphin’s Leap leisure and entertainment centre on Port Elizabeth’s beachfront to share ideas towards a possibly suitable strategy for establishment of a national maritime economic sector cluster for South Africa.
Among them were senior government officials inclusive of the Department of Environmental Affairs – the lead State department on Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy), the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Science and Technology; thought leaders from academic institutions including the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, researchers from independent institutions and industry leaders in the country’s maritime economic sector.
Also present were provincial Eastern Cape government authorities, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Council as well as local business leaders inclusive of members of both the Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) and Durban maritime clusters.
Discussions at the forum took two forms; themed speeches and panel discussions interspersed by questions and answers from attendees,
A week ago this blog highlighted some of the key issues raised and discussed, and in this report (because you do not have two days of time to listen to it all!) we present you a virtual experience of discussions of some of the issues in audio and video formats.
To take you back to some of interesting topics covered, Click Here
Establishment of clusters in South Africa’s maritime economic sector could have far more advantages for business owners in the sector than is derived by companies operating in isolation and in silos as is currently the case now. Among other things, the existence of a cluster would rather than eliminate competition, create synergies characterized by greater co-operation with shared benefits along values chains.
This was the strongest sentiment to emerge on the first day of a two day seminar on Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy – Exploring opportunities towards a national maritime cluster for South Africa – attended by a range of thought leaders from South Africa and on Norway, on the need for development of clusters in the country’s maritime sector.
Several speakers, among them Ms Judy Beaumont, acting Director-General of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Dr Malek Pourzanjani, CEO of SAIMI and Mr Prasheen Maharaj, CEO of Shipyards said the launch of Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economic in 2014 provided South Africa an ideal platform upon which industry in the country’s maritime economic sector and government could collaborate to ensure rapid and sustainable development of the sector for the benefit of all South Africans.
Crucial to it all, however; was intentional and determined engagement both within the maritime business sector with a view to establishing effective collaborative channels, but also between the sector and the public sector.
Ms Beaumont outlined the nature and purpose of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) programme as well as the milestones achieved to date since its formal launch in 2014. She described the programme as intended to both develop and transform the sector for integration into the country’s mainstream economy for the benefit of all South Africans.
According to Ms Beaumont, the initiative has certain characteristics among which is the need for speed in implementing identified projects, but also the work undertaken jointly through cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders.
In his adress Dr Pourzanjani said; “This seminar is being held under the banner of Operation Phakisa to explore the establishment of a national maritime cluster. As with Operation Phakisa itself, the success of such a cluster will depend on the involvement and collaboration of all maritime role-players and sectors – it is not something that a single entity or authority can make happen on their own.”
According to Dr Pourzanjani, industrial clusters are not a new phenomenon and already exist in some other business and industrial sectors, such the country’s motor manufacturing, tourism and other services industries.
In Europe, he said; the European Network of Maritime Clusters drew its membership from 17 countries and just two weeks ago had met with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, where optimism was expressed that “maritime clusters are blooming across Europe”.
These maritime industries, according to Dr Pourzanjani accounted for about five-million jobs and just less than five percent of the E.U’s G.D.P.
He said:” The value of clustering lies in their supportive environment for collaboration and innovation, which in turn assists industrial and small business development, employment creation, and overall value-added economic growth.”
Mr Maharaj said a currently dominant sense of self-preservation and advancement among especially what he described as a “few large companies and few Government employees” was not helping South Africa’s cause as the attitude to business development enabled only a handful to live well “while millions of our people are left jobless and poor.”
According to Mr Maharaj, quoting Algeria president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as newly appointed head of ECOWAS, “Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed.”
He said: “Through Operation Phakisa, the Government is unveiling a new Marine Manufacturing and Industrial policy framework. This policy focuses on opportunity, growth and innovation in niche markets where South Africa can compete.
“It recognizes the value of marine transportation as an important industrial infrastructure, with environmental as well as economic benefits. And it focuses on partnerships, as it is only by working together that we can succeed. So the key to success is collaboration to drive innovation, resulting in greater efficiency and competitiveness.”
The same view was shared by Mr Peter Miles co-founder and executive of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Maritime Cluster established some three or so years ago.
According to Mr Miles, each of the port cities along the coast of South Africa should have a maritime cluster and through which a national cluster could be anchored, with a coordinating role. He suggested also that there should be a fund established to assist the formation and ongoing administration of the clusters.
According to Mr Miles, the funding could be raised through a rand-for-rand contribution from both the public and private sectors.
Meanwhile, a host of Norwegian industry, research and education experts have and continue to share their experience of clusters in that country’s maritime economic sector, with their overwhelming message being that South Africa’s sustainable success with its Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) will depend largely on such collaborative structures.
Led by Norway’s ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen, the Norwegian continent includes Ms Anne Lene Dale, Director for Economic and Commercial Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ing Alf Egil Jense of the Norwegian Science & Technology, Dr Aase Kaurin of the Norway Research Council, Mr Svein Fjose of Menon Economic), and Dr Kristin Wallevik, the Dean of the University of Agder.
The two day seminar wraps up with a tour of the port of Port Elizabeth on Tuesday afternoon.
Eastern Cape steals national limelight on progress of South Africa maritime economic sector development
Port Elizabeth: 08 April 2016
The Eastern Cape province asserted its lead in the stakes for the country’s maritime economic sector revival when Government used the region on Friday (08 April 2016) as the host of the country’s inaugural national progress report on the implementation of Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy).
Flanked by no less than five Cabinet Ministers along with some Members of Parliament, representatives of the Eastern Cape provincial government led by their Premier, and Nelson Mandela Metro local government council led by its Mayor; President Jacob Zuma used the port of Port Elizabeth on Friday to give a most comprehensive and first formal public report of progress achieved to date since launch of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) program in 2014.
Even as dire the current economic conditions, Mr Zuma sounded highly optimistic but especially about the both the progress being achieved as well as its positive outcomes in the not so distant future.
South Africa’s economic growth is predicted likely to grow by no more than a percentage point in 2016, or less; due to factors emanating from both internally and globally, and that recovery may be a year or three away.
However, while this might point to a gloomy economic picture in the short term, it was no reason for pessimism in the medium to long term as the situation also presented a golden opportunity for investment in sectors lacking concentration, among them the country’s maritime economic sector, long neglected until about half a decade ago.
Prior to his taking the podium almost two hours later than scheduled at the eleventh hour, under a mega marquee that housed as many as 10 000 people, erected at length east to west to counter the notorious PE wind, and yet barely 20 meters from the seashore in the industrial area of the port of Port Elizabeth dominated by the dusty mounds of manganese ore and a foul smell of kerosene from megaliter storage tanks of liquid fuel – a set of features of the port long at issue will local residents and business – the Cabinet Ministers, Directors-General, and some leaders of State Owned Enterprises in his tow; sought to unpack the story from early morning.
In the lead under the blinding lights of national television cameras was Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe; followed in no particular order by fellow Cabinet Ministers that included Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa; Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzeni Zokwana; Minister of Public Enterprises, Ms Lynne Brown as well deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, and who were ably assisted by Eastern Cape Premier, Phumulo Masaulle as well as the Mandela Bay metro council leader, Dr Danny Jordaan.
Theirs was largely confined to a national television audience hosted by SABC2 Breakfast Show anchored by Leanne Mannas, thereafter by the SABC News Channel boxed in the pay television network, DStv, the latter which also carried live the President’s report from lunch-time.
Prior to Mr Zuma’s main delivery of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) progress report, the Government delegation led by Transnet officials at the National Ports Authority were taken on a tour of the harbour for a view of various new upgrades and particular infrastructure developed to expand business investment opportunities in the maritime economic sector in the region.
These included a new jetty slipway, as well as a new 90 ton boat hoist for boat repairers said to be only the second of its kind in the country. The entourage also boarded and toured a new a multi-million rand worth tug named Tug Mvezo, delivered from Durban only a few days earlier. The tug is named after the village near Mthatha recognized internationally for being home to global statesman, South Africa’s first president under the democratic dispensation, Nelson Mandela.
With the inspection and tours having taken longer than anticipated, Mr Zuma finally arrived at the mega marquees to a thunderous applause of song and dance from a crowd of people officially said to have touched the 10 000 people mark, and rendered rather most colourful by the dominant yellow, green and black colour attire made up of ANC T-shirts with a mixture of ANC leaders’ faces including Mr Zuma.
It was not inconsistent.
The Port Elizabeth metro (encompassing Uitenhage, the seat of German carmaker, Volkswagen; and nearby Dispatch, a town in between) is named after Nelson Mandela and its Main Street is now known as Govan Mbeki – in honour of one of the stalwarts of the black liberation struggle, and father to Mr Mandela’s successor as country president; Mr Thabo Mbeki.
The audience for Mr Zuma on Friday also varied by age, from the youngest – several below the age of 10 years old and some of whom momentarily lost contact with their minders – to the reasonably old; and a number of whom also occasionally dozed off in the contained steamy heat of the sun and sea made no less uncomfortable by the indifferently tight walls of the giant marquees.
With children losing contact with their minders in a decidedly irritating frequency, Programme Director, Mr Mlibo Qhoboshiyane – a member of the Eastern Cape provincial government responsible for Local Government and Traditional Affairs; at one point threatened to have ‘locked up’ any parent whose child was found to have lost contact with – to the applause of the audience.
In his speech, Mr Zuma said Government was relatively pleased with the progress being achieved under the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) program, but especially the Maritime Transport and Manufacturing lab, as earmarked infrastructure development involving significantly billions of rand of Government investment was gathering speed across ports in the country, from Saldanha Bay at the far western end of the Western Cape Province to Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.
But crucially he said; was the need for speed in the creation of job opportunities and alongside which was a programme for education, training and skills development for many aspirant maritime economic sector career seekers.
With regards the latter, Mr Zuma pointed to two recent significant developments; the enrolment for the first time ever of two public high schools in the Eastern Cape – the George Randall and Ngwenyathi High Schools in East London – for delivery of maritime economic sector education curriculum, and which was preceded two years earlier by the establishment of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) to focus on education, training and skills development as well as academic research into the sector.
Aptly, SAIMI – an initiative spearheaded by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in partnership with, among others; the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and the Department of Higher Education, is the first institution of its kind in the country wholly dedicated to human resources academic and vocational skills development and upliftment precisely for the country’s maritime economic sector, and located in the Eastern Cape; a region of the country reputably the ‘second poorest’ even as endowed with 900km of a coastline – the second longest after the Western Cape.
Only four of South Africa’s nine provinces are along the 3200km coastline stretching from the Atlantic Coast to the west, the Southern Ocean to the south and the Indian Ocean to the east, and therefore with a direct claim to an Exclusive Economic Zone of the oceans that stretches for more than 1.5 million square kilometres.
The location of SAIMI in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape; reportedly funded currently to the tune of about R300-million, is largely due to the region’s eminent interest in contributing significantly to the revival of the country’s maritime economic sector.
From a sea trade or transport perspective, the province lays claim to three major ports, two in Nelson Mandela Bay and another in East London, in addition to a sprinkling of fishing harbours dotted along the coastline between Plettenberg Bay at the western border with the Western Cape province, through to East London.
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University at which SAIMI is accommodated, and one of four universities in the province, had notably long taken a lead in expressing interest in efforts for the revival and placement of the country’s maritime economic sector central in South Africa’s socio-economic development agenda.
The university is reportedly the first in the country to establish a functional relationship with the Malmo (Sweden) based World Maritime University and on the basis of which South Africa has been dispatching annually scores of Masters and Doctoral students for maritime studies since 2013.
With the location of SAIMI in the windy city, the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel the SA Agulhas has found home here, as has the first commercial cargo vessel registered under the country’s flag, the Cape Orchid domesticated in the city.
Indeed, on its first voyage abroad, loaded with tons of iron ore destined for China last October, the Cape Orchid had also taken on-board a batch of cadets for training for a period of six months. Two of these young men were from villages in the mostly rural Eastern Cape.
On Friday Mr Zuma said the Eastern Cape remained poised to make even greater contribution to the country’s maritime economic revival – and about which he said most people countrywide knew little to nothing about until recently – and urged for collaboration and co-operation to ensure Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) delivered on its goals.
To the extent that the Eastern Cape gained the recognition it deserved in this regard, Friday was a good day in Port Elizabeth and it was a good day for the Friendly City.
At least that was impression on the faces of many among the thousands that came to welcome Mr Zuma’s report.
Mr Zuma said he would be back in the city in a week’s time, but this time for the launch of his party, the ANC’s local government election manifesto.
South Africans go to the polls for local government elections on 03 August 2016.
Lookout for the audi-visuals of the event on this blog later on.