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.
At 3.15pm on Monday, the SA Agulhas sailed out of the port of Cape Town headed for the open oceans surrounding South Africa for a commercial errand, and on board her, a total of 48 cadets and ratings – the largest such number of seafarer trainees yet – on their way to two weeks of hands-on training in the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel.
The commercial errand according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), owners of the SA Agulhas, involves measurement of radio signal strengths along South Africa’s coast on behalf of telecommunications and cellular phone services entity, Telkom.
The two-week voyage along the west and east oceans of South Africa (the Atlantic and Indian oceans) is a partnership between SAMSA), Telkom and the Department of Transport.
The SA Agulhas, a South African ice-strengthened training ship and former polar research vessel since acquired by SAMSA for the country’s National Cadet Programme now run by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), will double duty to ensure that the 48 cadets and ratings on board acquire some of the experience at sea they need to complete their studies.
“Without time at sea the cadets cannot graduate and it is very hard for cadets to get berths on ships or boats, so this is an important maritime youth development and employment initiative for both SAMSA, its partners in the maritime sector and the country,” says Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer of SAMSA.
On board, they will be taken care of by four specialist deck and engine training officers comprising Cher Klein (senior training officer in charge), Ncebo Msimang and Thabang Kudumane and George Valerievich Fatnev (deck).
The four officers will seek to ensure that the youths while on board for the next five weeks (two in the open ocean), receive and absorb as much required practical training as is possible.
Ms Klein and Mr Fatnev explains their plans and anticipation in the video below.
According to SAMSA, the SA Agulhas is due to return from its 2 850 nautical mile coastal voyage on 30 October 2018.
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
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).
As many as 47 scientists from the Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research will rendezvous with the SA Agulhas, South Africa’s research and dedicated cadet training vessel in Mauritius on Monday after the vessel docked at the port of Port Louis early on Monday.
The group of scientists will join the vessel’s 37 member crew and 20 of which sailors are newly minted cadets of the South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) undergoing their first training on board the vessel, on their first ever visit to the Antarctica where the vessel is headed.
SAIMI, based at the Nelson Mandela University, is responsible for the country’s Cadet Training Programme.
The SA crew sailed from South Africa’s shores on the afternoon of the 24th November 2017 for Port Louis in Mauritius under the command of Captain M. Barnes who is accompanied by two dedicated training officers entrusted with ensuring that the training objectives for the cadets are realized. The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) is in charge of the training on board the vessel.
According to SAIMI in a statement on Monday, as with the last similar scientific research and cadet training sojourn into the ‘end of the world’ undertaken at the same time in 2016/17, from Mauritius the contingent will, in a day or two, head down to Antarctica where the cadets will be spending the Christmas period as part of their compulsory on-board training before they can qualify as deck and engineering officers.
The vessel under charter from its owner, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), will spend time on the 68th parallel, which marks the start of the permanent ice cap.
SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said in a statement in Mandela Bay on Monday: “This is the second year that the vessel has been chartered by India’s National Centre for Antarctic Research for a multi-disciplinary scientific expendition, and this provided the added opportunity for a training voyage.
“During the voyage the cadets will have a combination of on-board lectures and gain experience working on watches and assisting the crew. They will also be able to watch the Indian scientists, who are studying currents and weather patterns, in action.”
According to Prof Pourzanjani, the group of sailors and scientists are expected to reach Antarctica in around three weeks.
SAIMI profiled the cadets as aged from 20-27, consisting of eight females and 12 males and 19 of whom are being trained as deck cadets and one as an engine cadet. They were drawn from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Durban University of Technology.
Captain Merwyn Pieters and Steven Paulse will manage the training.
The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, yet again became one of the star attractions at this year’s East London port festival, this barely three months after it had become a major drawcard in another of Transnet’s 2017 Eastern Cape ports festivals held in Port Elizabeth.
In Port Elizabeth at the end of March, the vessel had just returned from a three months research and training expedition with a group of Indian scientists who’d taken it, along with about 30 South African cadets, to Antarctica.
So it had been in international news headlines leading up to the first of the two port festivals, with thousands of local people in the Port Elizabeth region keen to get on board and view it.
In East London this past weekend, as it turned out, the public curiosity seemed to not have waned at all as thousands of revelers – estimated at about 23 000 – thronged the vessel during the three day event.
The SA Agulhas, owned by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and now utilised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, is the country’s only dedicated vessel for the development of seafarers since about six years ago.
It was brought into the service to address in part, the shortage of berths highly necessary for students at universities keen on completing their seafarer training through practical work on vessels at sea.
Since coming into service for the purpose, the vessel has since seen hundreds of young people, male and female, from South Africa and other African countries being taken through the processes that has seen many acquire the practical and work experience necessary to enhance their skills as seafarers.
For East London last weekend, the port festival was returning to the Eastern Cape’s second biggest port city for the first time in five years and according to organizers, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and partners, the intention was to give public exposure and enhance greater interaction between the public and the country’s ports infrastructure and facilities.
Phyllis Difeto, TNPA Chief Operating Officer, said the festival had an underlying strategic focus involving maritime sector related programmes such as the national Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) initiative that seeks to drive economic development, job creation and skills development
“We want to promote awareness of the ports, recreational opportunities, and career and business opportunities offered by the maritime industry. We want our communities to experience the unique operations in the port, and its exciting people-centred vision,” she said.
Other attractions of the port festival over two days included an SA Navy frigate – the SAS Spioenkop, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DAFF) rnvironmental offshore patrol vessel, the Victoria Mxege, an arts & crafts market and a wide variety of food stalls, a maritime exhibition including career opportunities, tug rides and family ferry rides, extreme bungee (50m freefall) thrills, helicopter flips and beer garden with live bands.
For more on the TNPA’s port of East London festival, Click Here
World Maritime University (WMU) leader and academic, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry visited South Africa for a week last week and apparently left very impressed with the progress being achieved in relations between her Malmo, Sweden-based educational institution and South Africa.
Dr Doumbia-Henry whose meetings in the country – from Sunday to Wednesday last week – began with senior government officials, among them Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, Transport Minister Ms Dipuo Peters and her deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga and later leaders of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Transport Education and Training Authority (Teta); said she was particularly impressed by the contribution now being made by dozens of local officials and maritime sector experts who achieved their post graduate education in maritime at the WMU over the last few years.
On Tuesday, she’d spent the better part of the day with at least about a dozen of the WMU alumni at SAMSA’s head office in Pretoria, and during which meeting the group – all of whom work for SAMSA – shared their work experiences and insights back in the country since their graduation in Malmo over the last few years. The meeting was also attended by a group of SAMSA senior management representatives as well as the DoT director, Ts’episo Taoana-Mashiloane
In an interview with this blog, The 10th Province shortly thereafter, Dr Doumbia-Henry was full of praise about the nature and level of the graduates involvement in programmes intended to enhance the rapid yet sustainable development of the country’s maritime economic sector inclusive of environmental protection of the ocean space, safety of personnel in the sector, the upholding of laws relevant to the ocean spaces as well as research and innovation.
She confirmed that she was in the country to strengthen relations with both Government – which has been the main supporter and contributor to the annual dispatch of South Africans to WMU since 2012 – as well as tidy up mutual bilateral relations with education and training institutions such as the NMMU, SAIMI and related; and leaders of the first two, Professor Derrick Swartz and Professor Malek Pourzanjani whom she spend some considerable time with between Sunday and Wednesday.
In the following video, Dr Doumbio-Henry fully outlines the purpose of her visit as well as her impressions of the country.
The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s only dedicated cadet training vessel under command of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has clocked yet another milestone after reaching its half-way point on Monday in a research survey expedition to the ice cordoned southern seas of the Antarctica, a journey that began just before Christmas last year.
Excited officials on board the vessel, among them a group of scientists from India and about 30 South African youths on cadet training, beamed back home a series of photographs of their half-way point journey, indicating the smooth track of the research expedition since about a month ago.
The SA Agulhas left Cape Town 48 days ago on Wednesday (December 14, 2016), headed for Port Louis in Mauritius where she took on board a group of Indian scientists that are part of the research expedition before she headed south towards the Antarctica – precisely the 68th parallel, a circle of latitude that crosses the southern ocean and Antarctica.
In the area and along the route, she’d carry out survey work expected to take a few weeks into later this month. On Monday this week, she reached the halfway point from which she will then turn around and head back to Mauritius.
Officers on board beamed the first photographs of the research and training vessel’s encounter with the icy conditions of the region. At the time of the encounter with icy conditions, according to Roland Shortt, Operations Manager/DPA for Maritime Special Projects at SAMSA Cape Town office, the vessel was located in Prydz Bay.
It is the research and dedicated training vessel’s first long journey on otherwise familiar territory around the Antarctica in more than two years – an intervening period she’d been devoted strictly to cadet training and skills development by SAMSA while occasionally anchoring at Quay 500 at the port of Cape Town.
The cadet programme she is still engaged in is now managed by newly established South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, situated in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training through the National Skills Fund.
As it were, on departure in December, the vessel had as part of its crew on board as many as 30 cadets in two groups; 23 Deck and seven (7) Engine cadets under the command of Master Mariner Captain D. Postman, Chief Engineer, D Jennings, assisted by Senior Deck Training Officer, Merwyn Pieters and Deck Training Officer, S. Paulse.
According to the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) charged along with Marine Crew Services) with management of the training, since sailing off from Cape Town to Mauritius and from Mauritius to the Antarctic region, the cadets in their respective groups – the Deck cadets split into groups of four (4) for rotation every seven (7) days – have been involved in extensive training arranged in four week cycles.
SAMTRA says the seafarer skills development initiative on board the SA Agulhas, in both lecturer format and practical engagement, encompasses Seamanship, Navigation, Bridge Watch and Deck Maintenance, complimented by a range of practical activities intended to both familiarize them in real time with a vessel design and mechanics through to its management under a variety of sea conditions.
The cadets will have four months of intensive hands-on and theoretical training while on board, required to clock up to about 32 hours of lectures a week on board, in addition to project and practical work, according Mr Pieters. This will be achieved due partly to the fact that none of the training is obstructive on board the vessel as the SA Agulhas features a world class simulator enabling exercises to be conducted without interfering with the operations of the vessel.
According to SAMTRA, those who successfully complete the fast-track training programme on board will need to complete another 20 months on board trading vessels before they can sit for their oral exams to complete their qualification, the Certificate of Competency (CoC) issued by SAMSA in terms of the international convention on Standards on Training, Certification and Watch-Keeping (STCW).
The research and training expedition is expected to be completed mid-way through February, with the SA Agulhas expected due back at Port Louis on about February 26, and back in Cape Town sometime midway through March.
On receiving the news Tuesday of the SA Agulhas having reached its half-way point on the journey by entering the Antarctica ice passage, SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi shared a congratulatory message with all the organization’s personnel involved with arrangements of the expedition applauding them for their contributions.