Pretoria: 26 October 2022
Panama and Ghana have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Africa that will for the first time, allow the countries to formerly recognise each other’s seafarers’ certificates under the same condition within which the countries accept all other foreign certificates.
The arrangement signed into operation by South Africa with each of the two countries separately on the sidelines of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) World Maritime Day Parallel Event (WMDPE) in Durban recently, is in terms of provisions of Regulation I/10 of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW Convention).
From Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), the agency’s Director-General, Mr Thomas Alonsi, led the delegation that included Mr Nana Bokkye-Boampong, acting director of marines services; Dr Richard Lartey, deputy director, planning, monitoring and evaluation; Capt. Clifford Kodjo Adjarko Osei, deputy director of technical services as well as Ms Barbara Oforiwaa Darko, the deputy director of maritime services.
On the Panama bilateral agreement, representing the Panama Maritime Authority were the Director of the General Directorate of Seafarers, Captain Juan Maltez and Panama’s Ambassador and Consul to South Africa, Mr Jorge Ricardo Silen. For South Africa was acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA, Ms Zamachonco Chonco.
The signing of the bilateral agreement between the PMA and SAMSA – the South African authority for seafarers’ certification – occurred following representations by the Panama maritime authorities earlier this year calling on South Africa to recognise seafarers’ certificates issued by both countries. Both are members of the IMO as is Ghana.
The basis of the request, according to SAMSA; was that there are over 3000 South African seafarers (certificate and uncertificated) serving on Panamanian ships in various roles.
“Panama Maritime Authority thus requested that there be formal recognition of certificates as required by the STCW Convention, such that those performing functions requiring Certificates of Competencies may be formally accepted on ships flying the flag of both parties.
This led to an interim arrangement being agreed to earlier in the year that allowed seafarers holding certificates issued by Panama Maritime Authority to serve on the South African ships.
At the Durban International Convention Centre during the signing of the agreement , Captain Maltez described it as “… a clear and concrete manifestation of the commitment of each of the Administrations, to continue strengthening ties, promoting collaboration and guiding future efforts, to work on improving the training of the levels of competence and the certification processes of seafarers, seeking to guarantee the safety of human life and property at sea, maritime protection and the protection of the marine environment.
“On the other hand, the Agreement will facilitate the embarking or contracting of Panamanian seafarers, promoting national labor, so that they can work on board the vessels of the South African Registry,” he said.
In terms of the agreements with both Panama and Ghana, according to SAMSA; the new arrangement is that a holder of a South African Certificates of Competency
- May now have their certificates recognised and able to find employment on ships from those flags (and vice versa)
- May now work on ships flying the Ghanaian flag,
- Seafarers trained at Regional Maritime University (RMU) – one of Africa’s largest maritime universities will have access to employment in Africa’s most technologically advanced economy
- Have access to employment on one of the biggest Merchant Fleet in the world (Panama)
The MoUs between South Africa, Ghana and Panama are the latest addition in a list of similar agreements now topping just over 30 countries. The list includes Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Hong Kong, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jordan, Kuwait, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, United Kingdom and Vanuatu.