Potential of SA’s oceans under scrutiny

NOVEMBER 7, 2014

South Africa and Africa’s maritime future comes under the spotlight in Nelson Mandela Bay next week (November 10 to 14) when key national and international players meet to discuss and plot the way forward in creating a thriving, but sustainable economy from its oceans.

Two maritime conferences and the launch of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) are all important stepping stones in developing policies and building capacity towards unlocking the huge economic potential of both the continent’s and the country’s oceans.

“We will be acting in the best interests of the country and continent by developing a thriving blue economy in a sustainable manner,” says Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Law of Sea and Development in Africa Chair Prof Patrick Vrancken whose team is hosting both conferences.

NMMU took the initiative to host the conferences – which have attracted delegates from throughout the continent - in partnership with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the International Ocean Institute (IOI) at the request of the African Union (AU).

These events and the launch of the new international institute, which will also be based in Nelson Mandela Bay (see accompanying release) follow a recent government initiative, Operation Phakisa, during which key players from throughout South Africa to together to identify ways of tapping into the potential of a blue economy in terms of job creation and wealth.

With South Africa bordered by ocean on three sides, 180 delegates from national and provincial government departments, the private sector, labour and academia visited to the Oceans Economy Lab in Durban where four priority areas in South Africa’s potential blue economy were identified -   marine transport and manufacturing activities; off-shore oil and gas exploitation; aquaculture and marine protection services; and ocean governance.

The first conference – The African Maritime Domain: Building Capacity and Developing Policy – runs from November 10 to 12, and is sponsored by SAMSA and Wasilla, a Finnish corporation which manufactures and services power courses and other equipment in the marine and energy markets.

NMMU believes that given its commitment towards educating highly-skilled maritime practitioners and its strategic positioning in Algoa Bay, it can play an integral role in the African Union’s quest to ensure the continent “takes its rightful place” among other global players.

Earlier this year, NMMU signed a formal agreement with the World Maritime University, the campus of which is in Sweden, in which the global institution will assist the Bay’s university in building future capabilities in both marine and maritime studies.

The university will also host a second conference with its focus on the legal challenges and opportunities presented by the African Integrated Maritime (AIM) strategy on November 13 and 14.