Address by Minister of Transport Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP, on the occasion of the dinner hosted by the South African delegation during the 106th Session of Council of The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), London
Ladies and gentleman
Tribute to secretary general Mr Mitropolous
Ladies and gentlemen part of the purpose of this event is to pay our tribute to His Excellency the Secretary General Mr Efthimios E Mitropoulos, whose term comes to an end soon.
Mr Secretary General, without going into great detail, on behalf of the Republic of South Africa we thank you for your contribution in advancing the interests of the international maritime industry.
Your Excellency, you have spent most of your life in pursuit of the best for the shipping industry. As you prepare for your next life beyond retirement as Secretary General, kindly know that we have a standing invitation for you to visit South Africa in the future so we can draw from your wealth of maritime knowledge for our country’s benefit.
We also would like to extend our congratulations to the newly-elected Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr Koji Sekimizu. We look forward to a fruitful working relationship inside and outside the IMO as our countries collaborate on maritime matters but also on other matters to be identified by both sides.
South Africa as a Maritime Nation in Africa
Mr Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted that tonight you have joined us to celebrate this evening as a maritime country. As a maritime state South Africa has:
some 3 000 km of coastline stretching over three oceans – the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans and has 8 established commercial ports
our ports are geared for world trade and I dare say that South Africa remains very much open to business
According to the latest statistic:
South Africa’s sea-borne trade accounts for over 50% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 98% of SA’s trade volume or 80% trade value is by sea
South Africa is a leading power in Africa’s intra-regional and international trade. Our key partners such as those in BRICS are regional powers with vast maritime interests and capabilities in sea trade, commerce and naval influence
South Africa’s maritime strategic interests bring with them huge obligations that include providing for the safety and security of navigation and ships, ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are part of the continent of Africa which is yet to assume its rightful place in the international maritime industry. I say we are yet to assume our place because:
the African continent has the lowest intra-regional trade levels compared to any other region in the world
Africa is the only region in the world with no merchant tonnage under its control (registry) to handle her coastal intra-regional and extra-territorial seaborne trade.
However it is our view that the current recession offers South Africa and the continent a unique opportunity to implement the African Maritime Charter – which was adopted in Durban at the African Union (AU) Maritime Conference in Durban in 2009 – through a comprehensive African Maritime Development Strategy. In this way we can re-enter the global maritime world and increase our own share of the economic benefits which derive from sea borne international trade.
Identifying investment opportunities
Investment in the maritime sector is critical if we are to grow and develop our maritime sector. In this regard, from June 13 to 14 this year, we hosted a Department of Transport (DoT) International Investor’s Conference in Cape Town.
The conference was attended by representatives from a number of countries including many that are represented here at the IMO. Following the DoT International Investor’s Conference, we have set up a Project Management Unit based in the Office of the Director-General of DoT in South Africa.
Through the Presidential Medical Unit (PMU) we will be processing the investment proposals as they come from all over the world. In particular we look forward to those investment proposals coming into South Africa from member states of the IMO targeting our maritime sector.
In this regard we have identified specific investment opportunities in our maritime sector some of which I will highlight tonight.
These are the:
Development of Commercial Ports and Small Harbours
Development of Cruise Terminal Infrastructure in Durban and Cape Town
Setting up of Offshore Industry Structures such as Oil and Gas and Renewable energy
Vessel Construction and Repair Yards in Saldanha and Cape Town
Multi-purpose Vessels, Defence and Tanker Building and Repairs
Investments in the South African Ship Registry
Further investment opportunities are available in Ancillary Services, such as
the development of South Africa as a major Bunker Supplier
the development and positioning of South Africa as a major ship repair centre.
Safety of fishing vessels
With innovative thinking, effective partnerships, mutual cooperation and sharing of best practices with other maritime nations, we believe that much can and will be achieved for the betterment of the maritime industry.
The implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol at the earliest possible date is important to further enhance the maritime industry. In demonstrating our commitment we wish to announce that following the Organisation’s Maritime Safety Committee – whose report Council will be considering, we have looked at the legal and technical options to facilitate and expedite the earliest possible entry into force of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol.
Our country is willing and able to host the Diplomatic Conference to consider and adopt the much-awaited amendments to the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol. Furthermore, this Council will be aware of the role that my country has played in regulating the safety of fishing vessels and therefore that the most befitting venue for the Diplomatic Conference if Council agrees could be South Africa. I look forward once-again to a warm welcome in October/September 2012 in the hope that Council will endorse our proposal to host the conference. We might even want to consider hosting the Diplomatic Conference to coincide with World Maritime Day in September 2012.
COP 17 in Durban
The theme of the IMO World Maritime day for 2009 was “Climate change: a challenge for IMO too! This theme was appropriate as the world was to move to Copenhagen in a matter of days to make further commitments on climate change.
In December 2011, South Africa hosts the United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP17) Summit in Durban which it is hoped will make headway in international efforts at addressing the challenge of climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is our view that the IMO should continue playing a critical role within its sphere including on matters related to the climate change. Specifically, in our sector, this is not to say there must be different rules for the same ship, but it is about ensuring that the effect and or impact of the response we give to the challenge of climate change do not become a hindrance to the development of others.
Coming council elections
At the 103rd session of the Council of the IMO held in London, South Africa was elected into the Council on 27 November 2009. On 3 December 2009 one of our own, Mr Dumisani Ntuli South Africa’s Permanent Alternate Representative to the IMO, was elected Vice-Chairman of IMO Council.
Our membership of IMO and of Council is on behalf of the people of South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world who depend on our coast for trade that is essential for survival of the human species. It is our intention on behalf of South Africa to express our wish to serve on the IMO Council when the elections come later this year.
We intend to use our position in council to advance the highest standards of safety and security and the protection of the marine environment.
We also want to drive the transformation and development of the maritime sector in South Africa and in the rest of Africa.
In particular, we will use our membership to attract investment into the maritime sector in South Africa and the rest of Africa.
See you all in November here at the IMO! See you in South Africa at COP 17!
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Transport
30 Jun 2011