An envisaged reorganization and alignment of education and training in South Africa’s maritime sector is a welcome development, but role players would be well advised not to waste South Africans’ time with skills sets that won’t lend them jobs, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation was warned.
The warning came from the department’s head of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy), Mr Mpumzi Bonga while addressing delegates to a two-day conference organised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in Durban last week.
The indaba, in Durban on Monday and Tuesday, according to SAIMI, was organised against the backdrop of a realization that while the oceans economy in South Africa and the rest of the African continent was being probed anew as the future frontier of economic development, South Africa is inadequately prepared as it does not have the manpower with the skills to match present and anticipated future demand in the sector.
According to SAIMI acting chief executive, Mr Odwa Mtati: “In order to activate the potential, we need the skills to match the demand….”
However, Mr Bonga in an overview address of the overall performance of the Government driven Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) since launch in 2014, said investment performance had so far exceeded expectations, but it was simply not creating the number of jobs anticipated.
He said investment to date in the targeted maritime sector subsectors had risen to above R40-billion – about R9-billion above target – in the five years since launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) and yet anticipated job creation on the other hand, had only yielded less than 10 000 direct jobs – a far cry from the 77 000 jobs hoped to be created.
Even with indirect jobs accounted for, Mr Bonga said the jobs creation picture in the maritime sector remained dismal. The mismatch in growing direct investment and job creation by the sector in the five year period, he said, could be explained by the fact that the bulk of the investment generated to date had been by the off shore oil and gas subsector, directed largely at seismic surveys and exploration, which required very highly specialized skills and fewer people to perform.
Even so, he said it was barely an acceptable fact that the maritime sector in general, and specifically the targeted subsectors, were not delivering on the promise the launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) gave at inception.
“Continued implementation of Operation Phakisa reveals that we have attracted so far R41-1-billion and less than 10 000. The anticipation was to grow the GDP contribution by R171-billion and create a million jobs by 2033. Now, this is five years on and not the 16-17 year horizon that we used for planning.
“In today’s terms, we were supposed to have grown the GDP contribution by R32-billion this year, and created 77 000 jobs. If we look at a leniarity constant between investment made and the GDP we can happily say we have exceeded the investment that was expected. But can we say the same of job creation, and the answer is decidedly, no!” he said.
A star performer in investment attraction was the off-shore oil gas and MPG subsectors which were responsible for the large bulk of the R41.1-billion investment made to date. Laggards on the hand included the maritime transport and manufacturing and the tourism subsectors – the subsectors with the greatest potential to create jobs.
Part of the reason this was not happening, Mr Bonga suggested, was an apparent mismatch of skills with jobs requirements, coupled with very slow transformation of the sector in terms human capital population demographics.
“The reason I am bringing this up is so that we should sober up when we plan the skills development that we are planning for, and to remind us that as when we do what we do, we be mindful that we do not have the luxury of time, as the majority of people out there are becoming restless. There is no room for mistakes.
“Whatever skills we plan for, South Africans will not take kindly if you gonna plan to train them in skills that will not be beneficial to them, skills that will not change their material conditions, ” said Mr Bonga.
There is no gainsaying that South Africa geographically is, for all intents and purposes, a maritime country. But are South Africans a nation all at sea, without a single drop of water in sight?
This was one of the questions to arise at this past week’s two day conference organised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) at the Durban International Convention Centre, and to which question a clear answer seemed elusive.
One strong view to emerge though, and stated without equivocation by one delegate from the academic sector, Ms Theresa Williams, was that: “South Africa may be a maritime country, but South Africans are not a maritime nation!” And this, according to her, has serious long term implications for a whole range of issues, but particularly maritime education and training.
Conference attendees, among them top academics, researchers, teachers, seafarers, heads of public and private sector companies and institutions, government representatives and associated came from across South Africa to Durban at the invitation of the Port Elizabeth based SAIMI.
For one and half days they’d discuss how best the country could effectively organise and manage its education and training of a future workforce that’s suitably prepared to develop and advance the country’s maritime economic sector in the 21st century and beyond.
South Africa’s maritime features include a country of 59-million inhabitants on a land area at the most southern tip of the African continent surrounded by a 3 200 kilometres long coastline spanning three oceans, the Indian to the east, the Southern to the south and the Atlantic to the west, with as much as a 1.5-million square kilometres of an exclusive economic zone, and possibly soon to be extended.
Through that corridor thousands of world trade vessels pass, while some dock at the country’s major ports. The seascape is also full of flora, fauna and other natural resources and whose responsible exploitation could contribute to expanded economic activity and wealth creation leading to jobs creation.
The indaba, in Durban on Monday on Tuesday, according to SAIMI, was staged against the backdrop of a tanking realisation backed by a recent assessment study that while the oceans economy in South Africa and the rest of the African continent was being probed anew as the future frontier of economic development, with a potential to generate domestically more than a million jobs and contribute as much as R177-billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next decade, South Africa simply does not have the manpower with requisite skills to match present and anticipated future demand in the sector.
SAIMI acting chief executive, Mr Odwa Mtati said: “In order to activate the potential, we need the skills to match the demand….Notwithstanding inroads that have been made at post-school education and training institutions in recent years, SAIMI’s 2018 Oceans Economy Skills Development Assessment (report) for South Africa highlighted a potential mismatch between current skills being produced and the actual industry needs.
EXCHAGING NOTES: (From Left: Ms Sobantu Tilayi (SAMSA), Ms Theresa Williams (MAISA), Mr Pieter Coetzer (SAMTRA), Ms Lyn Bruce (Klaveness) and Mr Victor Momberg (TETA) listening attentively to presentations during the Seafarer Development session of the SAIMI conference in Durban
“The study suggests that while the supply of skills is adequate in numbers, there is a disconnect between the type of skills being produced and those required by the industry hence the need for greater industry participation in shaping outcomes of the skills production system.”
Mr Mtati said the two day conference in Durban on Monday and Tuesday, under the moniker: “Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence” would hopefully produce ‘actionable outcomes to strengthen maritime education and training.’
“This conference offers a collaborative platform for stakeholders in industry, academia and government to review current maritime skills supply capacity against future demand, and to consider collaborative and collective ways to address deficits in the current system and close gaps,” said Mr Mtati.
This was repeated by Dr Sibongile Muthwa, the chairperson of SAIMI’s advisory committee and Vice-Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela University that’s home to SAIMI, in her opening remarks of the conference, all contained in the video above.
Meanwhile, as the conference wrapped up on the second last day, Mr Mtati was upbeat and confident that the gathering had achieved some of its objectives.
In a brief interview as delegates dispersed, Mr Mtati said: “Our sense is that out of the many stakeholders that participated, there is an acceptance of the need for engagement in meaningful discussions. Going forward, one of the outcomes that we will pursue is the development of a collaborative model to ensure that all the voices are accommodated.”
Further, he said, there was a strong commitment made by some of the stakeholders to get directly involved in the establishment and implementation of solutions to some of the challenges identified. Click on the video below for his full brief assessment,
Parallel Session: Seafarers Development
The conference had been packaged in sessions, first a full plenary soon followed by two parallel sessions – one focused on seafarers development and another directed towards skills needs assessment for the off shore oil and gas sub-sector.
This blog, tagged along with delegates that engaged in the seafarers development session and below, it features all the contributions of the seven main presenters during the discussion.
The insights into seafarer development in South Africa were breathtaking in some instances as they were astonishing in another. Poor coordination in training and education, lack of funding and requisite infrastructure such as a ships for berths, a poor orientation of youths keen on seafaring and a general poor public awareness of the country’s maritime status, were among issues identified.
At the same time, major opportunities lay still for exploration and exploitation, and therefore much work lay ahead for those willing to put in the hours.
The videos of the main presenters are loaded below for a full perspective of the nature of the discussion. A video of floor contributors will follow soon.
Mr Sobantu Tilayi
Mr Abdrew Millard
Ms Theresa Williams
Mr Pieter Coetzer
Ms Lyn Blake
Mr Victor Momberg
Captain Ian Hlongwane
Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) headed the session giving an overview of the country’s seafarer education and training landscape, along with a brief history of the challenges facing the sector.
Mr Andrew Millard, CEO of Vuka Marine gave a shipowners view of the seafarer landscape in South Africa with focus much on employer expectations.
Ms Theresa Williams of the Maritime Academic Institutions of South Africa focused on challenges and opportunities facing academic institutions currently offering maritime education and training, as well as dwelt at length on the nature of the youth in South Africa currently keen on maritime education. Pulling no punches, she says it is truly an uphill battle. Do note that Ms Williams’ contribution is in two parts, in two videos.
Mr Pieter Coetzer, Commercial Manager: South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) shares an independent cadets trainer’s perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing the sub sector.
Ms Lyn Bruce, Project Coordinator at Klaveness Shipping also shared an employer’s viewpoint of the South African seafarer with specific focus on her company’s activity in contributing towards development of the country’s seafarers,
Mr Victor Momberg, Executive Officer of the Maritime Chamber of the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) spoke on the role of the authority and the need for Technical, Vocational and Education and Training (TVET) institutions to be enrolled into the maritime sector education and training network.
Captain Ian Hlongwane, Manager, National Cadet Programme at SAIMI shares SAIMI perspective on the conference.
Women empowerment but particularly the previously disadvantaged is gaining momentum in South Africa’s maritime economic sector, boosted this time around by the launch of a study bursary being offered to young black women keen on maritime studies.
The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the country’s newest institution entrusted with among other things; the country’s national cadet training programme, is behind the initiative announced two months ago.
In a statement (below), SAIMI announced the opening of applications for the bursary and whose deadline is 10 December 2018.
SAIMI Statement (Issued Wednesday, 21 November 2018)
WITH only two percent of the entire world’s maritime workforce consisting of women, a new bursary scheme announced by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) plans to unlock the oceans economy for women in South Africa.
The Sindiswa Carol ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo Merit Bursary is now open for young black women wanting to pursue a qualification at a South African university to develop their career opportunities in the maritime sector.
As head of the Centre for Maritime Excellence at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the late Nhlumayo played a pioneering role in putting maritime skills development on the map in South Africa, in particular by empowering women in the sector, and championed the establishment of SAIMI.
The Sindiswa Carol ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo Merit Bursary is offered for maritime, marine or related studies at undergraduate and postgraduate level at any tertiary institution in South Africa. The bursary is open to South African black women (African, Coloured and Indian) under the age of 35 years.
The bursary is available for a wide variety of maritime-related study fields including Marine Engineering, Oceanography, Logistics, Shipping, Ocean Governance, Environmental Law, Geological Sciences, Zoology and Marine Ecology to name just a few.
SAIMI Project Manager Odwa Mtati said the bursary aimed to continue the work of the late Nhlumayo by encouraging women’s meaningful contribution to the maritime sector, and particularly to bolster the participation of young black women.
“Her role was pivotal in the promotion of women’s participation in the maritime sector. She also played a critical role in establishing SAIMI, and the bursary scheme in her name honours her contribution to growing South Africa’s skills capacity in the oceans economy,” said Mtati.
SAMSA Chief Operations Officer Sobantu Tilayi encouraged women to apply for the bursary scheme in Nhlumayo’s honour. “We thank SAIMI for acknowledging the legacy and role that Sindiswa played in the human capacity building of the South African maritime industry,” said Tilayi.
During her time at SAMSA, Nhlumayo initiated the National Cadet Programme that enables South African seafaring students to obtain the professional qualification for careers in the global shipping industry.
In 2013 she was a recipient of the Oliver Top Empowerment Award for Best Female Public Servant. At the time of her death in 2016 at the age of 45, she was enrolled for a PhD in Maritime Affairs at the World Maritime University in Sweden.
Recipients of the Sindiswa Carol ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo Merit Bursary will have the full cost of their tuition fees and textbooks covered. They will also be afforded opportunities to attend SAIMI conferences and other maritime-related events, as well as participate in organised bodies supporting women in maritime and science.
The closing date for applications to the Bursary Scheme is 10 December. To apply, download the application form from the SAIMI website:
South Africa’s youth would be well-advised to learn to be patient in their pursuit of success both in their school and tertiary level studies through to their working lives while steadfast in their ethical conduct, Dr Iraj Abedian, one of South Africa’s top economists told dozens of foundation level maritime studies pupils in Simon’s Town.
He was the main guest speaker at an awards event at the Simon’s Town School Lawhill Maritime Centre on Thursday evening during which top pupils were given recognition for their excellent performance in their maritime school studies and related performance during 2018.
Prior to addressing guests and pupils at the event, Dr Abedian assisted in handing out a number of awards to the top performing pupils.
Later in a speech titled: The Road Ahead in the Age of Disruption, and lasting about half an hour, Dr Abedian enumerated four of what he described as some key factors of success through hard work drawn from his own personal professional experience and which he said the pupils would be well advised to note and heed.
These were, he said: “commitment to excellence, patience, (a set of) clear core values and commitment to ethical practice, and a conscious embrace of uncertainty with enthusiasm.”
According to Dr Abedian, disruption was a constant and it needed to be embraced in the pursuit of success, and success, he said, was ‘not a destination but a journey’ requiring patience complimented by a conscious effort towards proper ethical conduct instead of a desire for instant gratification often characterized by bad behavior.
“In every corner of our lives, we see disruption. Disruption is not always bad. Very often it’s good, but the way we interpret it, we make it negative or positive,” he said.
Dr Abedian said the pupils had every reason to be grateful to their parents, the school as well as all those that supported them during and an important phase of their education journey, the foundation phase.
He said: “The acquisition of knowledge is a necessary condition for success. As if often said, success is not a destination but a journey, a journey of incremental accumulation of successes. In this journey, commitment to excellence is an important companion.This has to be a benchmark of your professional life.
“In addition to hard work and commitment to excellence, the next contributing factor to success is patience. I say this with a great concern in how today’s world of rampant pressure for instantaneous gratification, and unbridled pursuit of rapid accumulation of wealth in particular, as well as the ostentatious public display of opulence of wealth remains a great concern,” he said.
Dr Abedian said South African society currently was suffering from the latter culture of instant gratification and dominant to which was a penchant for corruption and fraud, as evidenced, he said, by a daily litany of corruption and fraud stories emanating from both the country’s private and public sectors as well as civil society.
For Dr Abedian’s full remarks, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – a long term supporter of the Lawhill Maritime Centre mainly through bursaries for mostly disadvantaged children keen on maritime studies at foundation level – joined several other entities, individuals and families this year in granting tertiary level bursaries to two pupils of the school in recognition of their excellence school performance.
The recipients were final matric year pupils Thabiso Rantsho and Sinazo Viti.
Presenting the SAMSA awards, human capital senior manager John Phiri who with Corporate Affairs senior manager Ms Nthabiseng Tema presented the awards, warned the pupils that discipline in their studies was also a key determinant factor to their success as the maritime sector, but particularly seafaring, was not for the fainthearted.
According to Mr Phiri, several former student and cadets that SAMSA sponsored in the past were now sitting at home without jobs due to lack of discipline he described as characterized by an undue and misplaced sense of entitlement.
For Mr Phiri’s full remarks, click on the video below.
Women education in South Africa’s maritime sector has been given a shot in the arm with the recent launch of a new merit bursary in honour of the late Ms Sindiswa ‘Tu’ Nhlumayo, a former South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) executive and reputably a pioneer in skills development in the sector.
The new merit bursary known as the Sindiswa Nhlumayo Merit Bursary, conceived, developed and administered by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, was launched recently and is now open for applications until end November.
According to Mr Odwa Mtati, Projects Manager at SAIMI, the new bursary is in recognition and acknowledgement of the pioneering work of Ms Nhlumayo in the field of skills development for the maritime economic sector while at the employ of SAMSA in Pretoria as head of its Centre for Maritime Excellence.
Ms Nhlumayo, also an academic and work performance multi-award winner, passed away in February 2016.
Significantly, said Mr Mtati, the new maritime education funding would target primarily women in South Africa as a means to increase their opportunities in the sector. The main reason was the apparently miniscule number of women in the sector, which he said constituted a mere two (2) percent of all workers.
“SAIMI is proud to announce the establishment of the Sindiswa Nhlumayo Merit Bursary to enable young black women to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies in maritime-related fields and achieve success in their careers in the oceans economy.
“The bursary has been created to honour the memory of Sindiswa Nhlumayo and her substantial contribution to the growth of the maritime sector and skills development in South Africa. Her leadership, her passion for the maritime economy and commitment to empowering young people to enter maritime careers, made her a much-loved role model to many,” said SAIMI in a statement during launch of the new bursary in Port Elizabeth two weeks ago.
For Mr Mtati’s full remarks, click on the two minutes video below.
Meanwhile, the SAIMI initiative has been met with excitement and full support by SAMSA, describing it as a necessary and opportune intervention for women in maritime education and skills development, while also a highly significant and appropriate gesture in honour of its former employee, Ms Nhlumayo.
SAMSA is a pioneering founding member of SAIMI which was established in 2014. Key among its activities is the management of the country’s National Cadet Programme.
Reacting to the launch of the Sindiswa Nhlumayo Merit Bursary for women keen on maritime education and training, SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi said: “Firstly we thank SAIMI for the initiative and we feel honoured to be associated with the name of someone such as Ms Sindiswa Nhlumayo who was a colleague to me and a hard worker.
“The legacy that she left, having worked so hard to try and focus the whole issue of capacity building for the maritime industry, to support the maritime economy, required us to acknowledge her,” he said.
Crucially, it was the targeting of particularly women that the launch of the bursary remains highly significant, he said.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (three minutes), Click on the video below
The seafarers career in South Africa is bound for a major shakeup in the coming months involving three major aspects: a re-look at the status of their qualifications for proper positioning, an overhaul of the process of their intake into the career path, as well as expansion of employment opportunities – the latter expected to involve the establishment of a South African fleet of vessels to do port to port shipments.
The policy shifts by government, driven by the Department of Transport in collaboration with the maritime sector and various others, emerged during observation of the international Day of the Seafarer held in Cape Town on Monday – one of three similar events held also in Port Elizabeth and Durban.
It was the first time for South Africa to observe the annual seafarers’ event at three locations simultaneously on the same day at three venues – the other two being Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Participants at all three events included government and its agencies including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), higher education and training institutions, industry representatives as well as seafarers, among others.
In Cape Town, Department of Transport acting Chief Director General for Maritime, Mr Dumisani Ntuli said a policy revision was currently underway to shakeup the country’s maritime sector but specifically shipping, with a view to facilitating the establishment of a domestic fleet of vessels to take over port-to-port shipping transport.
Primarily, this was to ensure greater participation of South Africa in the shipping sector involving its own people, but equally important, to create a stable and expanded opportunity for ongoing, sustainable development of a professional cadre of South African seafarers immersed in an own culture.
However, Mr Ntuli also acknowledged an urgent need currently to both address the issue of already qualified seafarers and whose qualifications as well as related experience do not enjoy recognition by the country’s education system in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority.
He said a task team involving appropriate representations from relevant stakeholders would be set up to fast-track the process.
In tandem, the quality of young people entering the profession would also require a re-evaluation as it was being established that some, if not a significant number of people pursuing seafaring for a career were either ill-prepared or simply not suitable for the type of work.
Currently, it emerged, there was a high drop out rate of maritime sector education students by especially cadets, once they get employed fully at sea.
According to Mr Ntuli, the main goal of all the initiatives was to ensure a stable career path for seafarers and that they are absorbed into the shipping transport industry and remain employed for their working lifetime.
With regards the observation of the Day of the Seafarer annually, he said the new format involving the staging of the event in cities across the country’s coastline would remain the feature, primarily to ensure engagement of all stakeholders for a continuous dialogue on matters affecting the sector.
For a detailed presentation of Mr Ntuli’s remarks on this and related matters, Click on the video below.
A full round up of the various participants’ contributions to the discussion at the Cape Town event on Monday will follow soon.
Among the key participants were Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer in maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Rob Whitehead, president of the Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Mr Leon Mouton of the Safety Training Group, Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, as well industry and seafarer representatives.
Miss Lelethu Ntuzula. A Deck Cadet
Mr Sanele Hlongwane. Ratings Trainee
Meanwhile, dozens of young and aspirant seafarers attending the event were all enthusiastic about the prospects of their careers given the increasing attention that was now being given to their well-being going into the future.
Among these were Ms Lelethu Ntuzula and Mr Sanele Hlongwane, both in their 20’s – one a deck cadet and the other currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas – an initiative of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) together with the TETA, that began three weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.
To hear their views, click on the video below.
Still in Cape Town, about two kilometers or so from the Cape Sun venue of the Cape Town leg of the Day of the Seafarers observation, at the Cape Town harbour, dozens of seafarers, young and old, on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the St Agulhas, had a cake and a braai, to mark the day, and fun was had by all.
Seafarers on board SAMSA owned national cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas taking time out to enjoy Day of the Seafarer 2018
In the other two coastal cities where the event was held, similar sentiment and merriment emerged.
Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA reiterated the authority’s openness to seafarers and informed those gathered that the overall wellbeing of seafarers was their priority.
Seafarers had to prepare themselves for the challenges associated with working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment, he said.
Some seafarers gathered in Durban asserted that one of the challenges they faced at sea was being perceived as ill-disciplined when they raised labour-related issues with their superiors on-board.
Mr Tilayi said: “It is important for our seafarers to understand that it is the Merchant Shipping Act, rather than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which governs the labour rights of seafarers.”
He encouraged seafarers to view the maritime industry in its global context, and consider the norms and standards established in the companies in which they worked.
“We encourage all our seafarers to understand the complexities of the industry they serve,” Mr Tilayi said.
In summary the DoT and SAMSA said the maritime industry had the potential to address the high unemployment rate, and a plan of action was necessary to include the following interventions:
Adopt South African models and knowledge to solve the country’s unemployment rate.
Develop and own a South African shipping fleet for economic growth.
Develop a seafarers’ culture and create employment opportunities for qualified South African seafarers.
Develop a career path plan.
Build the fishing industry to accommodate SA seafarers.
Strengthen the capacity of the SA Agulhas to use it as a training vessel for South African seafarers.
Integrate technological advancements in the industry.
The launch in Port Elizabeth of a new national ratings practical training for aspirant seafarers is among new and ongoing initiatives to expand the skills base in the country’s maritime sector, thereby giving more youth opportunities, according to the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Launch of the practical aspect of the ratings training took place at the port of Port Elizabeth on Thursday when the first group of 20 youths – 11 males and nine females – boarded the SA Agulhas to join in on its two weeks ocean sojourn on the Indian Ocean on a scientific research mission.
The SA Agulhas, the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel under the command of SAMSA, will be sailing some 300 km into sea along the eastern coast of South Africa, from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, on a charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF).
The scientific research mission will involve retrieval of data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in the coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change.
It is the first of two missions in 2018 for the SA Agulhas and for which it was recently dry-docked for fine tuning as well as refurbishing at the port of East London.
The scientific research missions for which the vessel is chartered offer an excellent opportunity also for the country’s growing cadre of young cadets undergoing training to become qualified seafarers.
This time around, focus by SAIMI along with its partners including training services providers, has been turned on practical training for ratings – a new category of skills development for aspirant seafarers that is being piloted and aimed at growing the pool of employable South African seafarers.
The ratings training is funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA). According to SAIMI, the 20 youths that boarded the SA Agulhas on Thursday are part of a group of 45 candidates in the pilot project.
In a joint media statement, SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said getting a project of this nature off the ground was the result of strong partnerships and collaboration, involving both public and private sector role-players and training providers.
“Special mention should be made of TETA as the funder and SAMSA as the owner of the vessel for providing this valuable opportunity for the trainees to gain sea-time,” he said.
Malcolm Alexander, TETA’s maritime education training and development practitioner, said: “We are pleased to see this pilot training project taking shape with the trainees being able to gain practical experience at sea aboard the SA Agulhas.
“The project expands TETA’s involvement in maritime sector education and training at a practical skill level and is a positive for the maritime sector and oceans economy growth.
“It also grows the pool of South African seafarers available for local and global employment.”
According to SAIMI, the current group of trainees is being managed by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and the Sea Safety Training Group.
Marine Crew Services is also a partner to the project, having agreed to place trainees in their managed fleets for further training.
The next phase of the project, according to SAIMI, will entail building the capacity of TVET (Technical Vocational Education & Training) Colleges to offer the training.
Weighing on the project, SAMSA Chief Operating Officer, Sobantu Tilayi described the initiative as forward looking.
“As part of our commitment to address the high unemployment rate, this rating training provides a wider scope of maritime training and skills development.
“It addresses the gap for career opportunities. Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as maintenance of the vessels, its equipment and gear, in rigging and deploying equipment, and handling and securing cargo.” he said.
Mr Tilayi said the SA Agulhas which SAMSA owns and manages, was particularly well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, was testimony of its strength and calibre.
By supporting the hands-on aspects of maritime training, the project partners are contributing to skills development as outlined in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa plan to fast-track the growth and development of the oceans economy, he said.
The global war against oceans plastic pollution has been given yet another boost with the launch of a new plastic waste academy in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, this week.
The African Marine Waste Network Academy, an initiative of the Sustainable Seas Trust and funded by the Norwegian government, was launched at a day long ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela University on Tuesday, 24 April 2018.
The Nelson Mandela University is settled on the seashore of the Indian Ocean, one of three oceans surrounding the country at the most southern tip of Africa – the Southern Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean to the west – and which together combine to form a 3200 kilometer coastline and attaching to which is a 1.5 million square kilometers (km²) of an exclusive economic zone to which South Africa has control.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has direct statutory responsibility for environmental integrity of this vast ocean space particularly in terms of pollution prevention by sea going vessels, inclusive of plastic waste.
In Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, it was announced that the new African Marine Waste Network Academy’s work will involve research, education and capacity building, economic incentives and enterprises development as well as communication and networking.
Guests attending the launch included Norway’s Ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr John Wade-Smith, academics from South Africa and Norway among whom were the Nelson Mandela University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Leitch, director of the African Marine Waste Networking group and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust, Dr Anthony Ribbink and about 70 others, among them government, non-government, business and civil sectors representatives.
In a statement announcing the launch this week, the partners to the initiative described the setting up of the academy for the Africa region as a timely intervention especially in a continent fast assuming the dubious ranking of having the most polluted marine and maritime environment.
Apparently, no less than 700 kilograms of plastic waste was entering and accumulating in the seas on a daily basis, it emerged, with predictions that the mass of plastics in the oceans around the world would exceed that of fish in only 30 years from now.
“Plastic has a detrimental impact on all marine life and our environment and this negatively affects the livelihood of millions of people and society at large. The African Marine Waste Network was established in 2016 to address the issue of marine waste at pan-African level, and aims to facilitate collaboration between people and organizations across borders,’ said the parties in the statement.
In 2017, the city of Port Elizabeth hosted the first ever African Marine Plastic Pollution conference to focus the continent on the problem and in finding solutions going forward. Some 42 African countries since became members of the African Marine Waste Network group.
Last month in Pretoria, the Norwegian government announced a R1.3-million sponsorship for the launch and work of the new academy. This followed an announcement by the Norwegian government of a NOK150-million fund to be dedicated to fighting plastic pollution worldwide. At the time, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Børge Brende said the Africa region would be one of the focus areas of the fund.
In Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, the parties to the African Marine Waste Network Academy initiative explained what the first priorities of the academy would be in the sponsorship period.
Among these will be the launch of a feasibility study in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) area over a six months period to test ideas and develop proof of concepts.
“The feasibility study will involve cutting edge research to generate much needed data on the amount of waste in catchments, rivers and estuaries in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, deploying drones and other innovative technology to achieve this.
Norwegian ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen said lessons learned through the exercise will be shared “with a view to scale up and roll out long-term initiatives from 2019 to stem the flow of marine debris from Africa and its island states into the oceans.
‘Only by sharing the experiences and knowledge will we be able to find sustainable solutions to global challenges. Dr Ribbink and his team are leading the way to saving the oceans. Norway is proud to be a sponsor of SST and a partner to the African Marine Waste Network. We sincerely hope others too will support their activities,” said.
For a six minutes interview with Ms Skymoen, Click on the video below.
For many of the 20 South African newest cadets that docked in Port Elizabeth on Friday for the first time on home soil since November 2017, missing Christmas with family at home was a completely new experience.
But apparently it did not matter, not really; as after all, they were out charting the course of their future maritime careers over the Indian and Southern Oceans, and while about it, almost reached the ends of the earth.
The group was South Africa’s newest deck and engine cadets from the Cape Peninsula and Durban universities of technology, and were the second most recent group of cadets undergoing their first practical training to sail as far as the Antarctica region over an 80 days period in 2017/8.
Trained under the tutelage of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based in Port Elizabeth – an entity now responsible for the country’s National Cadet Programme – in collaboration with the South Africa Maritime Training Academy (actual training providers on board the SA Agulhas) as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (owners of the vessel), the group left South Africa from Cape Town on Friday, 27 November 2017.
Young cadets returning from a three months sojourn into the Antarctica in 2018
The route took them to Mauritius over four days where they picked up a group of about 40 Indian scientists involved in research projects of the oceans closest the sub-continent.
From Mauritius they headed south towards the Antarctica and for just over two months they spent the time on board the vessel, learning the basics of ship sailing – their training split between deck and engine duties.
On return and arrival in Port Elizabeth on Friday morning, they could not wait to share their wealth of experience. Click Here.
Among those on hand to welcome the cadets back were SAMSA senior officials; deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Nigel Campbell and SAMSA Maritime Specialist Maritime Projects Operations Manager, Mr Roland Shortt.
Briefly, the officials were most impressed by the group of cadets both in terms of its focus on training as well as general conduct.
For their remarks to the cadets, Click on the video.
Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape will again be the receiving and welcoming city to about two dozen of South Africa’s newest cadets to successfully set sail – and venture for the first time into the icy Antarctica territory over the last the last 80 days.
The welcoming back ceremony takes place on Friday morning at the port of Port Elizabeth where the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) along with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the South Africa Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and various stakeholders, including the media will see the cadets get off their their training vessel, the SA Agulhas on South African soil for the first time since 24 November 2017.
The 20 cadets comprising 19 deck and one engine, left the country on the day to join a group of Indian scientists in Mauritius and with whom they would spend the rest of the time at sea from the Indian to the Southern Oceans for about 60 days.
The cadets under the stewardship of Port Elizabeth based SAIMI are mostly from the country’s two universities specializing in maritime education and sailor development; the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Durban University of Technology.
During the trip on which their supervision was under SAMTRA officials, the cadets underwent extensive training in their respective streams as part of their academic education towards a set of maritime qualifications including of engineering.
Sea training on board sailing vessels is a vital aspect of their maritime training and education and for which the SA Agulhas, hauled from certain retirement by SAMSA some five years ago, is designed.
After acquisition by SAMSA from the Department of Environmental Affairs, the SA Agulhas was converted into the dedicated cadet training vessel, complete with a state-of -the-art modern simulator that allows the students real time experience of sailing and managing vessels in actual sea conditions.
The trip to the Indian and Southern Oceans over 80 days was the second by the SA Agulhas in 2017 involving, on each of the occasions, the deployment and training of young South Africans cadets in the company of scientists from India.
On their departure in November from Cape Town, the new cadets had high hopes and spoke well of their expected experience during the voyage in the video below.
This blog will again speak to them to find out if their experience matched their expectations. We will share those views on this blog from Friday onward.
Friday’s welcome back event is scheduled to take place at the port of Port Elizabeth from early morning till noon.
Among expected guests are senior officials of both SAMSA and SAIMI, among them Mr Sobantu Tilayi (COO at SAMSA) and Dr Malik Pourzanjani (CEO of SAIMI).