CASE IN POINT | SAMSA
by Andrew Ngozo
Support for South Africa's Blue Economy
The drive for South Africa to maximise its participation in the global ‘blue economy’ has been strengthened with the launch of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Founded as an initiative of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the institute will promote and coordinate maritime education, skills development and research in order to support South Africa in harnessing the potential of its mostly untapped maritime resources. The government’s launch of the Operation Phakisa Ocean Labs initiative in order to develop the plans required to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans is estimated to contribute R177 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) and create a million jobs by 2033.
The African Union adopted the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime (AIM) Strategy in January 2014, with the vision to develop an environmentally sustainable and integrated blue economy across the continent. According to Professor Derrick Swartz, Vice Chancellor of the NMMU, both Operation Phakisa and the AIM strategy provide “a unique opportunity for the education sector to contribute to stimulating a maritime economy that is sustainable, efficient and globally competitive”. He adds that there is a need to stimulate bright young people to pursue careers in the maritime industry in order to ensure that the right qualifications are in place to provide them with a career pathway, knowledge and skills that meet the needs of industry into the future. The institute will initially be hosted at the NMMU in Port Elizabeth, with
a network of maritime centres in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. The vision of the institute is to become a fully-fledged maritime university.
Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, chief executive officer of SAMSA, believes that the vast potential of South Africa’s more than 2 500 kilometres of coastline extends beyond ‘fish and food’ into tourism and marine leisure activities. The areas with the most potential for maritime economic development, he says, are marine transport and shipping, oil and gas, fisheries and aquaculture, and maintenance. Commander Mokhele indicates that the establishment of SAIMI forms part of SAMSA’s strategy to “unlock the potential of South Africa’s oceans and position the country as a leader in all things maritime”. He concludes: “SAMSA remains focused on promoting South Africa’s maritime interests by bringing together role-players in industry and facilitating programmes that will benefit South Africa’s economy.” Key stakeholders in maritime education and economic development have formed the steering committee to guide the strategic direction of SAIMI. In addition to SAMSA and NMMU, the steering committee has representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Department of Science and Technology, Transnet and the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA).