A forward march by South Africa back into IMO Council- voting on Friday in London.

Pretoria: 01 December 2023

Approximately 24 months ago, South Africa’s maritime sector bowed its head with deep felt disappointment when the country lost its International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Category C Council seat by a flimsy margin for the 2022-2023 biennium ending this month November 2023.  

The IMO Council Category C elections at the time involved 20 States deemed to have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council ensures the representation of all major geographic areas of the world, but had not been elected under Category A or B.

South Africa, a previous a Council member up to that point, along with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco, were the five African IMO Member States and candidates vying for a seat in the IMO 40-Member Council 2022-2023 biennium.  Only Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya retained their seats.

The next round of elections for the 2023-2025 biennium takes place once again in London on Friday, 01 December 2023, with South Africa, led by the Minister and Department of Transport, assisted by among others, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), are more than willing to wrestle back a seat so as restore the country’s representation of itself, southern Africa, and the African continent broadly on the IMO Council.

Boasting a long-standing relationship with the IMO since 1948 in an observer status, prior to eventually gaining full membership in 1995, South Africa ’s campaign for a re-election in December 2023, with the theme: Sailing into a Sustainable Maritime Future, began in earnest more than a year ago, involving variable approaches to lobbying for support in various countries and maritime organisations in Africa and globally.

However, the build-up gained significant momentum from the time South Africa hosted the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event in Durban, attended by delegates from the body’s 175 Member States from across the world. Other engagements with relevant stakeholders in the South Africa campaign have since been held and continue in the build up to election day scheduled for Friday.

Based on campaign documentation including a brochure developed for this year’s event, among South Africa selling points is the country’s natural geolocation attributes, its long history of direct involvement and progressive contribution to both domestic and global maritime administration and development aspects through the IMO and associated fraternal organisations, regionally and internationally, as well as its positive prospects across a broad range of aspects including human development, modern infrastructure, technological advances etc.

On this year’s round of elections according to the IMO, a total 46 candidates (11 for Category A, 10 for Category B and 25 for Category C) have been confirmed, with China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States contesting the A category’s 11 seats.

For the 25 Categories C Council seats, South Africa, one of only three African countries contesting this time around, is grouped with 20 Member States which, according to the IMO; are “… not elected under (a) or (b)… [and]… which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.”

The list comprises Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Türkiye.


Shipping safety and security comes under focus in South Africa at IMO three day workshop in Durban: SAMSA

Durban: 12 November 2018

Strengthening of safety and security of global shipping against all forms of criminal activity at sea through close collaboration and information sharing among maritime states comes under focus in South Africa this week at a gathering in Durban led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The IMO workshop in Durban over three days from Monday 12 November 2018, and  attended by about 60 delegates from the Gulf of Aden and West Indian Ocean region some of whom are member States, including South Africa, will focus on specifically identified requirements to enhance the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) and its revised version known as the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’.

In Durban, South Africa early on morning, delegates to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) workshop on the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, gathered for a group picture ahead of the three-day discussion beginning on Monday through to Wednesday. IMO workshop is organized and hosted on behalf of the global body by the Department of Transport and its agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority. (Photo: SAMSA)

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), hosts of the workshop along with the Department of Transport (DoT), the DCoC is a regional counter piracy programme with the main objective of repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Aden and West Indian Ocean region.

However, the revised version – the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’ has since expanded the scope of the DCoC to include all acts of criminality in the maritime environment, including illicit maritime activities such as human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

According to the IMO in a statement on its website, the Jeddah Amendment “recognizes the important role of the “blue economy” including shipping, seafaring, fisheries and tourism in supporting sustainable economic growth, food security, employment, prosperity and stability.

Thandi 2.jpg“But it expresses deep concern about crimes of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity, including fisheries crime, in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Such acts present grave dangers to the safety and security of persons and ships at sea and to the protection of the marine environment.

Crucially, says the IMO; “The Jeddah Amendment calls on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea”.

“This will include information sharing; interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such crimes; ensuring that any persons committing or intending to commit such illicit activity are apprehended and prosecuted; and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers involved as victims.”

According to the IMO, of 17 eligible countries to sign the  DCoC and its revised version, several are now signatories. These include the Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Jordan, Madagascar, Maldives, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen, Kenya and Somalia.


Ahead of Monday’s start of the three days IMO workshop, SAMSA said delegates will focus on aspects including the promotion of national and regional plans to achieve Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and plans to enhance the DCoC information network to meet the objectives of the Jeddah Amendment to DCoC 2017.

“This includes agreeing on a common action plan for establishment of National Maritime Information Sharing Centres in each of the participating States, strengthening of existing DCoC information sharing centres and options to create synergy with the newly established Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Madagascar and the Regional Maritime Operational Coordination Centre (RMOCC) in Seychelles.

“The workshop will also discuss the development of common Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and incident reporting formats to promote interoperability and a regional strategy for information sharing to achieve MDA,” said SAMSA.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Chief Operations Officer. SAMSA

SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Sobantu Tilayi added: “On behalf of SAMSA, Department of Transport and Government of the Republic of South Africa, i would like to take this opportunity to thank the International Maritime Organisation for having requested South Africa to host this important workshop on Regional Information Sharing within the Djibouti Code of Conduct (Jeddah amendment) family.

“It is indeed an honour and a privilege for South Africa to host this workshop here in Durban – our coastal city and home of the biggest port in Africa. SAMSA and DoT, on behalf of Government, are hopeful that South Africa will host a successful IMO DCoC Regional Information Sharing Workshop.”