Millions of seafarers worldwide continue to form the backbone of the global economy and yet their apparent invisibility as critical or essential workers remains a major challenge for especially South Africa – a situation lavishly laid bare by the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic since about a year ago.
According to KwaZulu-Natal University professor, Shaun Ruggunan more than a quarter of the approximately 4 500 South African seafarers working on ships abroad found themselves stranded at ports across the world after most countries, including South Africa, imposed variable regional lockdowns as part of the fight against the spread of the pandemic.
He was chatting to this blog on Monday this week about the launch of a South African seafarers’ survey last week aimed collecting as much information as is possible about their experiences in the aftermath of the outbreak of the pandemic.
The main purpose of the survey, said Prof Ruggunan, was to understand the impact of Covid-19 on South African seafarers’ mental and physical well-being, with the survey’s findings planned to be shared generally with both maritime sector stakeholders, specifically employers and related, but also with the public.
Other beneficiaries include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – which has given its full support to the initiatives – other seafarer involved institutions as well as crewing companies.
“The survey will run for a month in order to allow for as many South African seafarers – a majority of The first purpose of the survey is to make seafarers visible by bringing to the public’s attention the role seafarers and the conditions under which they have fared during outbreak of the pandemic, so that people get to understand how important the sector workers are to all of us,” said Prof Ruggunan
He added that in addition to general public awareness, employers will also gain insight from the experience of the country’s seafarers while the survey’s findings may also contribute to necessary policy interventions that are evidence-based.
For the full chat, please click on the video below.
Meanwhile, the UKZN survey is one of two currently running, the other launched by SAMSA last Friday with a view to determining the training needs of seafarers and seafarer training institutions during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic
The SAMSA survey is the second step of its nature this year following to the announcement recently of a further seafarers’ certificates validity extension given South African seafarers whose time limited qualifications might have expired, in order to renew them.
The SAMSA survey, according to Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo will run until 23 April 2021.
Seafarers keen to participate in both surveys can follow these links below in order access the forms, both which take no more than 10 minutes to fill.
The Covid-19 pandemic that’s engulfed the world since about the end of 2019, killing as many as nine hundred thousand people so far and forcing periodic national lockdowns, may have had a truly devastating impact on the world’s economy – the world’s maritime economic sector that’s an essential lifeblood to world trade included – but it has also presented opportunities to refocus priority areas for economic development.
At least that was the dominant view of contributors and participants in a webinar organised by the Eastern Cape provincial government last Thursday. For South Africa’s maritime economic sector, and precisely that of the Eastern Cape – one of the country’s four coastal provinces with the second biggest claim to a coastline along the Indian Ocean – five specific areas of business investment opportunity are beckoning.
These include the fledgling ships bunkering services at Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth established only four years ago, coastal and marine tourism along the province’s largely pristine and underdeveloped Wild Coast coastal corridor, fishing and aquaculture, skills development and environmental protection.
Participants in the webinar, among them the acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi, and representatives of the Eastern Cape provincial government and associated entities including the Eastern Cape Socio Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC) and Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ERCDA), the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) etc, were agreed that these identified areas of maritime sector investment opportunity were also interlinked and therefore highly acquiescent to close alignment.
The webinar on Thursday, attended by about 50 people, was according to the provincial government, intended to probe its Covid-19 scuppered Oceans Economy Masterplan launched with much fanfare in March this year, for low hanging viable investment opportunities for pursuit almost immediately in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was because, the provincial government said: “COVID-19 has upended major sectors of the economy. The lockdown measures imposed on companies to enforce social distancing resulted in supply-side shocks for the economy. The closure of international borders disrupted the global value chains for critical industries such as maritime industry.
“These supply-side shocks induced the demand-side shocks, with most workers losing jobs and incomes. Unemployment across industries skyrocketed, resulting in a deep slump in the economy. Key sectors of the Oceans Economy were not left unscathed by the COVID-19 lockdown measures. With the evidence that the coronavirus is receding, and the country moving to Level 2 of the Risk-adjusted Strategy for Economic Activity, there’s an urgent need to jumpstart economic recovery of the critical sectors of the Oceans Economy in the Eastern Cape.
“The province has a compelling value proposition for investors in the Oceans Economy, and it is the opportune moment to act to leverage on this proposition. Towards this end, the Eastern Cape Operations Phakisa: Oceans Economy Secretariat is convening a one-day session to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the Oceans Economy, and to map a path towards Oceans Economy recovery. Key stakeholders are convening for a conversation to map a way forward for the Eastern Cape Oceans Economy Agenda during a period characterised as the “New Normal”.”
Areas of primary interest and focus for the Eastern Cape’s allotment of some 800km of a coastline in an ocean space incorporating a 1,5-million km2 of South Africa’s exclusive economic development zone, included marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine tourism, small harbours and coastline development, research, technology, innovation; skills development and ocean governance.
In his contribution, Mr Tilayi (SAMSA) described the ship bunkering services development in Algoa Bay as one ideal opportunity for business investment, skills development and other socio-economic value exploitation.
Launched in 2016 as a ship refuelling station taking advantage of both the suitability of the Algoa Bay region, and the steadily increasing volumes of especially trade vessels traversing the country’s oceans waters, from Western Europe, the Americas through to Asia, according to Mr Tilayi, the service was already proving to be a potential key contributor to the country’s economy, even if still at a low base.
A critical economic aspect to its potential success were global geo political and economic driven issues affecting the East and Western countries whereby, from a trade costs management point of view, the southern African seas corridor was gaining preference from shipping companies ahead of the oft congested Suez Canal.
Currently operated by three (3) bunkering service providers, he said; “the subsector had already created as many as 260 jobs – more than double the number recorded at launch (117) in 2016, with various business opportunities developing subsidiary to the core services”.
In addition to oil-based fuels, with ship technology advancements gaining pace alongside alternative fuels development, the international vessels refuelling location in Algoa Bay could further expand its services to liquified natural gases thereby expanding diversity of services.
In addition, consistent with the country’s economic development imperatives, alongside jobs creation in general, it provided a critical platform to advance transformation of the country’s maritime economy through skilling of previously disadvantaged communities as well as development of small black businesses.
Linked to this would be development of a range of maritime skills, particularly those relevant to marine and maritime tourism, environmental protection and oceans governance.
To aid this process, Mr Tilayi said SAMSA had among steps taken so far, facilitated the establishment of a Maritime Industry LED Fund whose objectives include the strengthening of sea space environment protection through development of enhanced capacity to manage pollution incidents, support research and related matters, as well as funding maritime industry development, but particularly the entry and development of small black business as well as rural economy development.
This was taking place alongside initiatives to assist the development of rural coastal areas wherein four projects had been launched, involving a maritime youth development programme undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape government, to equip rural youths with basic maritime skills as well as find them jobs. Mr Tilayi said the MYDP had to date placed in excess of 600 of these youth on international cruise ships around the world.
The other projects involved a coastal and marine tourism initiative undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape Tourism Board and identified local authorities; a youth skills development initiative focus on boat building and refurbishing undertaken jointly with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (now with the Moses Kotane Institute) and various others, as a well as a maritime heritage initiative undertaken jointly with the South African National Heritage Council and others.
According to Mr Tilayi, shipping companies in South Africa, among them Vuka Marine, were in the process of contributing to the initiatives with a training and crewing venture focussing on ratings and hospitality.
Meanwhile, according to the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA), one other major opportunity for immediate pursuit by the province was the development of its fishing and aquaculture industry.
The aim, according to ECRDA Chief Executive, Mr Ntlanganiso Dladla, was to take advantage of the increasing gap in global seafood demand and supply, wherein current projections indicated a supply-demand gap of between 29-40 tonnes per annum in South Africa and as much as 249-322 tonnes per annum in southern Africa which in global terms, he said, represents 2.53 metric tons or nine (9) percent of global demand stripping supply.
He outlined progress with development of a marine tilapia five phases project over 12 years in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal aimed at producing as much as 100 000 tonnes of fish species per annum by 2032.
According to Mr Dladla, the five phases development is projected to yield about 4736 direct jobs at fish farm and processing clusters – a thousand of these in its planned launch area of Mbhashe along the Eastern Cape ‘Wild Coast’ – and as many as 150 000 jobs for small scale farmers in the value chain across the region, with gross annual income of R3,4-billion against operations expenditure estimated at R1,24-billion.
Associated would be development of small-scale crop farmers producing soya, sunflower and maize, operating on half-hector plots totalling about 172000 with a potential crop value of between R134,7-million and R193,4-million per crop type by phase five of the project development.
Significantly, ownership of tilapia fish farms in the projects was being designed to assign up to 70% of ownership to workers, 30% of ownership in hatcheries and feed plants, and 38% share in fishing processing plants, thereby ensuring effective economic empowerment of affected rural coastal communities in both the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and possibly Mozambique.
Vital allies who voiced commitment in terms of various skills development for these and related projects, were the the Port Elizabeth based Nelson Mandela University and SAIMI along with other identified tertiary institutions in the region, the webinar was told.
Saturday, 25 July 2020 marks the 6th year since African countries, both maritime and inland, agreed to declaration of the day as an occasion to focus the continent’s attention at its endowment with and legacy of millions of acres of ocean space and on the basis of which its general global economic activity depends.
It was at the 22nd Summit of the African Union in 2015, that the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, declared the period of 2015 to 2025 as the “Decade of African Seas and Oceans”, and specifically highlighted that each year on 25 July. the continent shall celebrate the day as the African Day of Seas and Oceans.”‘
This, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria this week, was done “in order to foster wealth creation from Africa’s seas and oceans by urging African States to develop a sustainable thriving blue economy in a secure and environmentally sustainable manner.
Facts to the logic of the reasoning include a recognition and acknowledgement that, with growth in global trade involving African countries, around 80 percent of international goods are transported on ocean going vessels and over ninety percent of Africa’s imports and exports are conducted by sea.
“In the past four decades the volume of global seaborne trade has increased more than four times over. Ninety percent of the world’s trade and two-thirds of energy supplies are carried by sea- demonstrating the deep sense of how the oceans and seas are interlinked and how action in one sea may have direct or indirect consequences to other seas. Protecting the ocean thus becomes everyone’s business and a joint and concerted effort by the African continent to ensure the protection of her seas and oceans becomes paramount.
Crucially for Africa however, is the need for ease of access to the oceans by all of the continent’s countries, this to ensure free flow of inter regional and international trade. According to SAMSA, the 2050 AIM-Strategy, all African Union (AU) Member States are “landly connected” to the seas and oceans.
SAMSA states: “The celebration of the African Day of the Seas and Oceans is one of the recommendations found in the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, commonly known as The AIMS 2050 Strategy. The AIMS 2050 strategy broadly provides a framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Seas and Oceans in the African continent.
“The implementation of the strategy will also assist with:
Establishing a Combined Exclusive Maritime Zone for Africa (CEMZA);
Enhancing wealth creation through building our countries’ maritime-centric capacity and capability;
Ensuring security and safety in the African Maritime Domain;
Minimizing environmental damage;
Preventing hostile and criminal acts at sea, and prosecute offenders if necessary;
Protecting the populations, Africa’s Maritime Domain (AMD) heritage and infrastructure in the African Maritime Domain;
Promoting and protecting the interests of African shippers;
Enhancing Africa’s competitiveness in international trade;
Improving and facilitating intra-African trade as well as transit transport in landly connected countries;
The building blocks of Africa’s maritime sector development however, come against the backdrop, and are cognizant of a number of challenges currently facing the continent’s oceans spaces in the Mediterranean Sea up north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Southern Seas and the Indian Ocean to the east.
The identified challenges broadly include that; with 46 percent of Africans living below the poverty line, fish makes a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million African and provides income for over 10 million people.
In addition, marine and coastal ecosystems play a significant role in mitigating the impact of climate change. Yet in Africa, the marine and coastal systems are the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change in the world, – this attributed to a low adaptive capacity of the continent.
Added to the pressure facing Africa’s oceans are the negative effects of marine pollution due to human wastefulness as reflecting in the massive dumping of large volumes of plastics in the continent’s ocean waters, leading to irreparable and devastating damage to marine life.
In equal measure, maritime security is cited as posing a multidimensional threat to global security in general, and has major effects on issues of food, energy and economic security.
According to SAMSA, in the past decade, Africa has found itself as the epicentre of international maritime insecurity, with such issues as piracy and armed robbery at sea off the east and west coast of Africa alike, causing major human and financial damage.
In parallel, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, toxic waste dumping and human, weapons and narcotics trafficking are an additional burden to Africa’s maritime security.
“Thus for Africa,” says SAMSA: “the sustainable management of coastal and marine environments and resources is of utmost priority. The promotion of sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in Africa will significantly enhance food security, ensure constant economic growth and improve the quality of lives of the people in the coastal communities.”
On the marking Saturday of the Africa Day of the Seas and Oceans, the agency said: “South Africa will observe the 6th African Day of the Seas and Oceans along with other maritime nations and administrations around Africa on the 25th July 2020.
“On this special day SAMSA as the regulating authority of maritime affairs in South Africa encourages South African’s to support the nation’s Blue Economy Agenda which highlights the impact of oceans on our country and the various ways in which the ocean contributes to the country and its economy.
“The nation is encouraged to also note the developments in the maritime sector and take advantage of the opportunities unveiled in the maritime sector such research activities, Maritime Education Training (MET), maritime careers, investment opportunities, commercial shipping business, technology and port development to name but a few.
“Through active participation in such a continental activity South Africa will continue to grow its maritime sector through the Blue Economy agenda and continue to boost opportunities for wealth creation and generation in the country,” says SAMSA.
The fledgling offshore ships bunkering services established four years ago in Algoa Bay may be beginning to live up to its economic promise, as business opportunities expand to new business entrants, some hitherto with little if any experience in shipping or any related maritime business sector services.
Lacking most in such area of business operations are largely black South Africans whose exposure to, and participation in maritime sector businesses is decidedly limited.
This is so even as South Africa is essentially a maritime country with direct access to three oceans stretching over a 3,200 kilometres coastline bordering a 1.5-million km2 of an ocean water space designated as its Exclusive Economic Zone: – from the Atlantic Ocean in the west, through the Southern Ocean, and to the Indian Ocean in the east.
As such, when black folk make a decisive break into the sector, as has recently a young black budding business entrepreneur from Port Elizabeth, the promise of the country’s maritime economic sector redevelopment and expansion positively contributing to South Africa’s broad economic development through inclusion and wealth redistribution to all, finds realisation.
South Africa’s offshore bunkering services on the Indian Ocean near the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province was officially sanctioned and set up in 2016, launched successively with two highly experienced major oil ship transfer services suppliers; first the Greece based operator, Minerva Bunkering (formerly Aegean Marine Petroleum, and thereafter, SA Marine Fuels – the latter an all local black women founded company, now part owned by Hong Kong based global oil products group, Orxy Energies.
By end 2019, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), no less than 100 ships on average per month annually had docked near the ocean city since, for bunkering and related services and in the process, fuelling the injection of hundreds of millions of rands into the local economy.
For a while however, associated shipping business services in the new offshore bunkering services subsector remained confined to a few chandlers’ hands – two, according to SAMSA – all of which were long serving and highly experienced maritime sector white owned and managed businesses.
Five years on in early 2020, a local young black man from a Port Elizabeth township, New Brighton, Mr Hintsa, Carlos Mpe broke ground by becoming the first black Small, Micro and Medium Enterprise (SMME) category business owner to gain entry in the provision of maritime sector business services to visiting ships in Algoa Bay.
Mr Mpe who, by his own admission, until very recently, had never before been on a boat at sea in his young life this despite having been born and grew up in a Port Elizabeth township only less than three kilometers from the Indian Ocean, made the breakthough by establishing a small services firm, called Mthi Wembotyi Projects in 2017, and acquiring a year later, a 16-meters long steel boat to render off-port-limits (OPL) ship services to vessels visiting the area.
According to Mr Mpe during an interview, his interest in the maritime sector business services was sparked by the gradual sprawl of big ships of all shapes now regularly putting anchor in the ocean off the coast of Port Elizabeth, mostly for crew changes and bunkering services.
” I was actually jogging down the Brighton Beach one day and saw all these ships that were floating lazily on the ocean and began to wonder what it was they doing there.
“From then on I began researching and soon found out that they are here for bunkering and related services, and I became interested in getting involved,” said Mr Mpe during an interview in Port Elizabeth.
Having put his few ducks in a row, including acquiring the OPL boat from a local boat builder, his first real break into actually delivering services came early in 2020 after a local chandler, Vrontado Marine Services, headed by operations manager, James Bilsbury acquired his services.
Mr Mpe had come knocking at his services company’s front door, brokering business and according to Mr Bilsbury, on assessment during a meeting, they were satisfied with his offering.
“We are a ship chandling company which means we supply foreign vessels with provisions, technical, and other stores they might require. These stores sometimes need to be delivered to vessels at anchorage in our bay.
“Carlos called us one day and made an appointment to come and see us about doing some launches together (to deliver our stores at anchorage). He came to the meeting and introduced himself and his company to us.
“We explained in the meeting what we required of him before we can do business together. He met our demands and we have since done two deliveries to vessels at anchorage area using the launch boat called Crest.
“We have done the vessel MAASGRACHT on 28 May, carrying 2.6 tons in seven (7) bulk bags. Then we have done the MANDARIN vessel on the 31 May carrying four (4) tons in 10 bulk bags,” confirmed Mr Bilsbury.
Next for Mr Mpe was a deal with Heron Marine, a bunkering services company contracted to fuel four huge cruise vessels owned by Carnival which were passing the city on their way around the world to disembark thousands of seafarers caught up in the impacts of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the four Carnival cruise ships, the Carnival Dream, required to take bunkers offshore while seat anchorage and this required more services than would ordinarily be the case with onshore refuelling at a port.
Mr Mpe’s role was to help shift to place, in between the cruise ship and the refuelling tanker, a massive barge with fenders, as well as lineup other protection equipment necessary for a safe transfer of oil from one vessel to the other.
“It was quite an exciting thing to do, getting that barge and all other equipment in place for the bunkering service, ” said Mr Mpe.
His engagement by Heron Marine however, was in keeping with the company’s commitment to create and provide business opportunities to emerging small businesses, but especially those from the black SMME sector, according to Heron Marine CEO, Ms Kgomotso Selokane.
“In our commitment to our license requirements, we use local suppliers as much as possible. In this operation specifically we procured the services of a drone operator to take footage of the entire operation.
“However, the pinnacle of our excitement was how we committed ourselves, as an entity, to SAMSA’s SMME Development requirement, as our mooring boat was provided by a local 100% Black Owned SMME,” she said in reference to Mr Mpe’s small firm’s engagement in the special operation.
Mr Mpe says the going has been tough but also rewarding so far, and he looks forward to making more inroads into the sector. However, this be hastened by direct investment into growing the business – something he hopes the business investment sector will be kind to.
“I want to grow this business and become a big business operator,” he said.
Meanwhile, SAMSA has applauded the development of the creation of opportunities for the entrance also of small black business operators in the country’s sole offshore bunkering services sector in the Eastern Cape.
According to SAMSA, a roleplayer and contributor to the implementation of the country’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative lauched in 2014, bunkering in Algoa Bay plays a crucial role for the effective economic benefit of the local economy in Port Elizabeth (PE), Eastern Cape. It has become an imperative for the local economy and the expansion of maritime sectors in PE.
SAMSA senior manager for the agency’s Southern Region (Mossel Bay to Port St Johns), Ms Bongiwe Stofile described it as an exciting development.
“This is a great achievement for us and the industry , as such we would like to celebrate it. It hasn’t been an easy process to instil a transformative mind-set in the industry and hence the recognition of first movers.” she said.
It is a view Ms Stofile also shared directly with the two companies that have so far contracted Mr Mpe’s small firm, Mthi Wembotyi Projects.
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.
South Africa’s five inland provinces, Free State, Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga have as much opportunity as their four coastal provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape) to make a telling positive impact in extracting both economic and social value in the country’s maritime and marine sectors, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
In fact, according to SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, the state agency is keen on making sure this occurs through its Maritime Rural Support Programme (MRSP) launched three years ago in KwaZulu-Natal and which has already touched rural areas of the Eastern Cape and now being extended to the Mpumalanga Province.
Central to it is the engendering and inculcation of an entrenched culture of education, training and skills development in the maritime sector with lasting positive impacts on entrepreneurship development and ultimately fruitful careers and job creation.
The extension of SAMSA’ MRSP – comprising of elements of corporate social investment and separately funded joint initiatives with various parties in both the private and public sectors – to Mpumalanga Province was revealed by Mr Sobantu during this year’s celebration of the World Maritime Day at Badplaas (eManzana) on Thursday and Friday last week.
Describing the province bordering both Mozambique to the north east and Swaziland to the south east, as among those endowed with vast waterways comprising no less than 20 big dams, Mr Tilayi said it would be remiss that such vast natural marine endowment was not responsibly full exploited for the benefit of the broad community of the area through maritime and marine skills development, entrepreneurship involving primarily tourism, as well as job creation along the value chain.
From a SAMSA perspective – which is charged with responsibility for safety and security involving essentially the licensing of small vessels as well as skippers utilising the country’s waters ways for any reason – the opportunity is vested in ensuring that there are sufficient trained officials to monitor compliance in all areas.
Mr Tilayi said SAMSA’s planned intervention in Mpumalanga would include
focus in this area whereby it would seek to work with both provincial and local government institutions with a view to establishing a program to produce skilled officers to conduct surveys and carry out licensing inspections.
The second anticipated intervention would involve facilitating the establishment of a youth oriented entrepreneurial venture encompassing marine tourism services offering boating excursions across the province’s dams. This would start small with a pair of matric pupils from a school in the Gert Sibande District Municipality who had approached SAMSA for assistance with a skipper’s license.
The pupils from the Zinikeleni Secondary School in Carolina won many hearts with a demonstration of model of a functional ‘cruise’ vessel they designed, constructed and exhibited at the event on Thursday and Friday. For a view of the demonstration click on the video below.
A third SAMSA intervention in the Mpumalanga Province would involve the broadening of the agency’s Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) involving the identification, training and deployment of youths on tourists cruise liners across the world. He said the country currently has an allowance of up to 1200 placement opportunities on cruise liners worldwide per annum, with the Eastern Cape leading in taking advantage of the programme since 2017.
The final intervention may, according to Mr Tilayi, involve the identification of matric pupils in the area for training as naval architects – a skills area he described as experiencing a huge gap in South Africa as a whole.
SAMSA’s approach, said Mr Tilayi would seek direct engagement and close collaboration among all affected and interested parties but particularly the Mpumalanga provincial government, local municipalities, schools and related.
For Mr Sobantu’s full remarks on these initiatives earmarked for Mpumalanga Province in 2018/19, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, in applauding the SAMSA initiatives, emphasized the critical importance of each of the parties playing fully their respective roles in delivering on the goals.
Also adding its weight to the maritime education and skills development programme earmarked for Mpumalanga province, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Chief Executive Officer, Ms Shulami Qalinge announced a R20 000 worth sponsorship to the Amanzi Primary School for swimming lessons conducted national by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).
Talent nurturing as part of a broad based skills development strategy for South Africa’s economy, but particularly the country’s maritime economic sector, remains a top priority according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The remarks by SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi came at the weekend as the government agency hosted a send-off event for one of its employees, Mr Siphosenkosi Mthembu who jetted off on Saturday to Malmo, Sweden for a two-year academic study at the World Maritime University.
Mr Mthembu will be pursuing a Master’s level course of study in Shipping and Logistics, supported by both the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA) and SAMSA.
Mr Mthembu embarks on the academic study in Europe having spent close on six (6) years as an employee of SAMSA in its certification unit, a service record that began in 2013 shortly after he’d completed his junior degree in maritime studies at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), following to which he also acquired a post graduate degree in maritime studies through the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
SAMSA’s support of Mr Mthembu includes his retention as an employee of the organization on his return in a year and a half from 2018.
Speaking shortly after an event on Thursday last week to bid Mr Mthembu farewell, and which was attended by some of his family members, Mr Tilayi said that while South Africa’s economy currently was being battered on all sides by indicators that clearly reflected that not all was well, it was not time to fold arms and prepare for better times.
The drive towards improvement of education and skills development and placement of especially talented South African through institutions of learning, in the country and abroad, should not slow down but speed up
“We are very tight on skills particularly in the maritime economic sector and it is initiatives of this nature that we want to support as SAMSA. It is people like Sipho who’ve demonstrated talent that we want to lend all the support we can.”
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks, click on the three minutes video below.
For his part, Mr Mthembu was ecstatic for having gained the opportunity and support to further his maritime education studies particularly at an international institution dedicated to education and training in the sector. He will be joining the ranks of several other South Africans who have studied at World Maritime University since the programme was initiated by SAMSA jointly with other partners about four years.
For a brief chat with Mr Mthembu click on the three minutes video below.
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.
Public and private sector partnerships remain crucial to advancement of redevelopment and transformation of particularly formerly marginalized communities in South Africa inclusive of those directly affected and impacted by the country’s maritime economic sector, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)
The view was expressed by SAMSA’s Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi during launch of the State agency’s maritime rural support programme for the Ingquza Municipal Area in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape on Wednesday, 01 August 2018 – an event deliberately tied to also mark the celebration of the Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu Centennial currently underway countrywide.
The Ingquza Municipal Area in Lusikisiki – some 45 kilometres north-east of Port St Johns – comprises two land settlement nodes, Mbotyi and Msikaba – that are part of South Africa’s globally renowned Wild Coast stretching for more than half of the Eastern Cape Province’s 900km coastline on the Indian Ocean.
Owing to both historical and current socio-political dynamics, the rural communities here, although settled in an area that by some accounts is endowed with some of the world’s best natural resources, with massive maritime economic development potential; remain poor, marked by high unemployment rates.
In launching the SAMSA Corporate Social Investment (CSI) driven rural support programme in the area on Wednesday, jointly with the Ingquza Hill Municipality, Mr Tilayi said this was intended to provide certain interventions that would hopefully both assist the local community with maritime sector skills development as well as draw business investment in sustainable entrepreneurial ventures to uplift and improve lives of the people here.
Pivotal to the endeavor would be public and private sector partnerships informed by and involving direct participation of the inhabitants of Ingquza.
To this end, Mr Tilayi said the package of interventions aimed for the area would follow the recommended format, and their primary goal being to facilitate the training of especially local youth with a set of maritime sector related skills that would enable them to either set up their small enterprises or acquire meaningful employment within the country’s broad maritime sector.
According to Mr Tilayi, the intervention at Ngquza Municipal was a countrywide corporate social investment programme by SAMSA that began a few years ago and now with foot-marks in provinces including KwaZulu-Natal.
In the Eastern Cape Province, the Ngquza area initiative follows to a similar intervention conducted at nearby Port St Johns in 2017.
At Ngquza Municipal area, SAMSA working jointly with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board and the local municipal government, will focus on a skills development programme over a three months period beginning September 2018, involving diving (open water and advanced to master level), life guarding, fishing, coastal and marine tourism, maritime heritage boats repairs and general skills such as youth leadership and entrepreneurship.
Targeted will be youths between the ages of 16-35 years old who, strictly, are resident in the area.
In addition, proposed activity may include the erection of a cold storage facility for local subsistence fishermen that will also incorporate a boat repair centre.
No less than R3.5-million is expected to be expended in the first phase of the skills development initiative alone.
Explaining why the initiative was pegged on the Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu Centennial celebrations, Mr Tilayi said it was befitting that the elderly in South Africa remain fully part of all efforts to develop their communities as, he said, they constitute a bedrock of social cohesion and provide support to most youth, especially the unemployed.
To this end, SAMSA used the event to provide warm winter blankets to some 400 elderly people above the age of 60 years old as well as hosted them to a luncheon.’
SAMSA celebrates Nelson Mandela Day 2018 with the elderly