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African Maritime Domain Conference 2014 kicks off in Nelson Mandela Bay

Nov 11, 2014
African Maritime Domain Conference 2014 kicks off in Nelson Mandela Bay

The African Maritime Domain Conference 2014 in Nelson Mandela Bay kicked off today with stakeholders announcing bold plans to ensure effective strategies to create wealth from the blue economy and ensure sustainability.

The Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Tsietsi Mokhele, challenged delegates in the conference to think critically about how best to manage both issues of governance and socio-economic transformation as outlined in Operation Phakisa.

As the custodian for South Africa’s maritime industry and interests, SAMSA is playing a crucial role in the upcoming AMDC, of coordinating stakeholders participating in the conference and providing the platform upon which crucial maritime education, innovation, economical and skills development issues will be addressed.

The conference provides for an excellent platform upon which the goals of recently launched Operation Phakisa can be promoted and launched to African stakeholders. The AMD conference will also see the launch of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), an entity that will provide for multi-disciplinary marine research, education and training.

Mokhele said: “Africans’ share of transportation revenues though our seas is significantly low. African participation in the shipping sector is very important if we are going to create an inclusive blue economy that transforms the continent. We cannot build a blue economy in a way that excludes the majority of the people,” said Mokhele.

He said the scope of discussions and solutions at the conference had to emphasise both issues of governance and finding ways in which the blue economy can be used to advance the targets set out in Operation Phakisa. These included the GDP contribution of between R129 billion to R177 billion by 2033 as well as the job creation target of between eight hundred thousand to one million jobs by 2030.

“The agenda has been set,” said Mokhele, adding that the task was to then find the right policy and regulatory framework and strategies to realise the growth objectives not just in South Africa but throughout the continent.

Environmental Affairs, Minister Edna Molewa’s representative Andre Share, who is the programme manager for Operation Phakisa said there needed to be an integrated oceans’ management approach in South Africa and the continent at large. “The [two] oceans connect us all in the African so we should work together.”

He said Operation Phakisa was a stepwise process focusing on four sectors within the blue economy. These are maritime transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, and aqua culture, as well as maritime services and governance. 

The Vice Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and conference hosts, Professor Derrick Swartz said it was important for Africans “to know the nature and value of natural resource endowments from the ocean, including transportation, oil and gas, aqua culture and maritime tourism so as to develop the right governance mechanisms and beneficiation in a sustainable manner”. 

During this conference the South African International Maritime Institute will be launched by Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande. An Oceans and Maritime Institute would also be launched at the university in the first quarter of 2015 as part of a long term strategy to build a maritime campus and university.

The Director General in the Office of the Premier in the Eastern Cape, Mahlubandile Qwase, said government was making the right steps to build human resource capacity and policies, as well as strategic interventions to assist the development of indigenous firms which can compete in the global maritime sector.  

“We have been working with SAMSA since 2010 to explore opportunities to realise greater value from our 800km coastline and three ports. There has been very little commercial maritime activity in the province even though we’ve had these great natural resources,” said Qwase.

The Minister of Natural Resources in Seychelles, Peter Sinon, said it was about time for greater coordination of governance and sustainability initiatives across the continent given the extent of overfishing taking place in the continent currently.

“We have an opportunity today to write a different history than what Africa has been known for. Now there is a new era which presents us a new opportunity to develop the ocean economy. “We have claimed our land and we have the know-how we should use our skills to develop our economy.”

Takehiro Nakamura, Coordinator Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Unit at the United Nations Environment Programme gave an overview of the global governance model and touched on the regional governance framework. 

Image: Financial Mail