Efforts by the South African government to hasten the pace of developing the country’s ocean transport sector and precisely through rapid growth in registration of more cargo carrying vessels under the country’s flag, took yet another positive step forward this week following to a historic agreement between shipping owners, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Mineral Resources Council of South Africa to enter formal discussions.
The development came about during the first formal South Africa Shipping Industry Workshop organized by SAMSA and held at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria on Tuesday. Participants included representatives of various Government institutions and departments inclusive of transport (DoT), mineral resources (DMR), Trade and Industry (DTI) Treasury, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as well as private sector ship owners and the minerals industry representatives under the Mineral Resources Council of South Africa (MRCSA).
It was the first of a series of workshops planned by SAMSA for the country’s shipping subsector.
According to SAMSA, the issue focused consultations with directly affected and or interested role players in South Africa’s shipping transport subsector both in the private and public sphere, along with important current and potential contributors in the value chain, are an effort to hasten the pace of development of shipping ownership in South Africa to address a range of socio-economic development matters.
These include transformation in the sector through actual increased ownership of shipping vessels under the South African flag by a diverse group of people, increasing the share of rendered services in the subsector, as well as enhance opportunities for maritime skills development.
Of the country’s minerals mining sector in particular, according to Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer of SAMSA, the drive to draw the sector into the fray comes against the backdrop that much of South Africa cargo for trade export – estimated at 300-millions tons per annum valued at about R110-billion – comes from the sector.
This, he says, is particularly true of manganese and iron ore as well as coal.
Yet, of about 13 000 trade cargo vessels reporting at South Africa ports to deliver imports and ship out local produce annually, only less than a handful of vessels registered under the country’s flag are participating, a clear indicator, he says, that the local economy is barely benefitting its own people through the shipping business as hugely as it could.
This he says, is inconsistent with both country’s National Development Plan (NDP) as well as other socio-economic development needs.
He said while by law, the Government could stipulate what it considers an equitable share of cargo for locally registered ship owners and has occasionally been encouraged to do so, SAMSA felt it prudent to rather first give opportunity for engagement with all stakeholders in discussions and persuasion towards a shared common goal.
Speaking of Tuesday’s first workshop in the series he said: “We thought it would be proper for us to get this small grouping of people just so that we begin find that one value proposition for South Africa Inc. We chose stakeholders within the bulk shipping industry such as the cargo owners and ship owners as well as policy makers and regulatory authorities.
“The intention was to find all the impediments in the subsector so that we can move on to find out what it is that we need to do to extract maximum value for the South African economy.
“This is the first of a series that we plan to hold with all role-players in the shipping industry, the next being that involving liquid bulk and also general cargo.
“I am pleased to say that the initiative was indeed worthwhile as we have now agreed with the Minerals Resources Council of South Africa for the first time ever to enter formal engagement with their members about this, but also Treasury committing to a process to clear out all the remaining tax issues affecting the shipping subsector,” said Mr Tilayi.
Meanwhile, in yet another positive development, Mr Tilayi confirmed that the South African Ship Registry could see more vessels registered – with at least two more before the end of 2019. This latest edition would bring to about half-a-dozen ships in the registry, with three others likely to come onto the group early in the new year.
For more on this as well as the views of one of South Africa’s newest ship owner, Thuso Mhlambi, financial director at Linsen Nambi Bulk Services, click on the two videos below (3 and 2 minutes respectively).
Video 1: Mr Sobantu Tilayi
Video 2: Mr Thuso Mhlambi
More videos of the actual discussions on Tuesday will be place on this blog soon.
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
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.
Deepening South Africa’s efforts towards rejuvenation of its maritime economic sector precisely through expanded education, training and skills development requires as much planning as it does focused engagement with partners, local and international.
It was with appreciation of that reality when early evening on Monday, a delegationof the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) joined a Philippines business delegation at the Pretoria home of the Philippines’ Ambassador to South Africa for a casual yet exploratory chat about possible links that could benefit both countries in the field of maritime.
Also in attendance were representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and appropriately, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco).
Led by its president, Teresa B. Chan, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce delegation had been in the country since November 18, meeting its business chamber counterparts in Cape Town and Johannesburg, before a brief tour of the region ending in Pretoria.
SAMSA’s interest in meeting the business group hinged on its knowledge and involvement in maritime economy development issues, specifically opportunities for cooperation in education, training and skills development and about which the Philippines is acknowledged globally.