Simon’s Town to host Maritime Security conference


In three weeks the creme de la creme of the South African maritime and naval sector will gather in Simon’s Town for the 2019 edition of the South African Maritime Security Conference.

The one-day event is supported by the SA Navy whose chief, Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwane, sees it bringing “a credible, robust and dynamic exchange of ideas on the protection, promotion and sustainable exploitation of the Southern African region’s maritime resources”.

The gathering in the Job Masego Ward Room of Naval Base Simon’s Town on 12 July aims to facilitate “knowledge-based and thought leadership-driven debates intended to unearth solutions” to the challenges facing the South African and Southern African maritime communities.

Adding further lustre to the gathering is that both SA Navy projects to acquire new hulls – albeit a reduced number – are underway. This has seen Durban-based Southern African Shipyards start with construction of a hydrographic vessel to replace SAS Protea (A324) as set out in Project Hotel. At the same time Damen Shipyards Cape Town has commenced with the building of three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) as part of Project Hotel.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is listed as keynote speaker with acting Armscor chief executive Solomzi Mbada due to perform the welcome.

Institute for Security Studies (ISS) researcher Denys Reva will give an overview of the evolution and application of Africa’s sea power with African Union (AU) legal counsel Dr Nagira Negm set to speak on the continent’s integrated maritime strategy. Africa and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea will be examined by Professor Martin Rupiya, executive director of the African Public Policy and Research Institute. Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa research co-ordinator Professor Francois Very will provide an insight into governance and stability at sea off Africa with Carl Kies of Reutech down to give an insight into anti-drone warfare systems.

Professor Robert van Zyl, Project Leader MDA Satellite Programme at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), will give a presentation on the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Satellite Programme. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will invest R27 million over the next three years in the country’s MDA Satellite programme. The recent launch of the ZACube-2 nanosatellite carries an automatic identification system (AIS) payload for monitoring the movement of ships along the South African coastline. ZACube-2 is a demonstrator for the technology that will ultimately be used in a constellation of nine nanosatellites that will be developed to facilitate South African maritime domain awareness.

Panel discussions covering “A new maritime era,” “The evolving security seascape” and “Challenges in renewing maritime capabilities” take up the remainder of the day.

The conference organisers note the oceans have the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa and create just over one million jobs by 2033. Total’s Brulpadda oil and gas discovery 175 kilometres off the coast of South Africa is part of this and will be another topic under discussion.

“The 2019 instalment of the Maritime Security Conference promises to be an even more successful event especially with both Project Biro and Hotel having being awarded and the SA Navy having to continue to meet its constitutional and international obligations in the face of ever decreasing financial resources,” Hlongwane stated.

He sees the conference facilitating and nurturing debates “with the intention of unearthing solutions to the challenges affecting the South African and the Southern African maritime communities.”