defenceWeb at 3rd Sea Power for Africa Symposium

defenceWeb is this week attending the South African Navy’s 3rd Sea Power for Africa symposium.
We will be endeavouring to bring you live coverage of the event from the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The symposium got underway last night with a cocktail function, which was addressed by acting Secretary of Defence Tsepe Motumi, who on the occasion of International Women`s Day called for the better representation of the gender in African navies.
He also called on the assembled Navy chiefs and senior officers to consider what the challenges are facing African navies in building the capacity to discharge their constitutional obligations. 
The Navy has invited fifty African states and eighteen international navies to attend the event. Indications last night were that most have sent delegates.    
Much of the talk on the floor involved Africa`s lack of response to piracy off the east coast where an international fleet is seeking to fight the scourge. Ships from as far afield as the US, China and Russia have been on station since the third quarter of last year to reduce a surge of attacks on ships in the Gulf of Aden and adjacent waters but to date not one African country has dispatched a task force to join this effort.
The SA Navy has on a number o occasions declared itself ready and able to show the flag and has briefed Cabinet accordingly. But a source says they received a cold audience and were told not to presume to dictate foreign policy to Cabinet either directly or through the media.     
The symposium is being punted as a forum where the chiefs of African navies can discuss “matters of mutual maritime importance in order to create greater understanding, co-operation and friendship within the continent”. 
It will be the second time the SAN will be hosting this event, having hosted the inaugural edition in 2005. The 2006 edition was held in Abuja, Nigeria. Kenya and Egypt was to hold the next two rounds but, in could not. SA then volunteered to bring the event back on track.   
This morning will start with an opening address by defence minister Charles Nqakula. After some administrative points the first session is scheduled to start at noon with a paper on “emerging threats to maritime security”, to be followed by another on the legal issues arising from these.
In the late afternoon, the symposium will hear ideas on “cost effective collaboration” with emphasis on the regional acquisition of vessels designed to undertake the whole spectrum of exclusive economic zone (EEZ) protection duties.
A number of shipyards and naval systems vendors are on hand to promote their solutions for this very problem.
The SA Navy is currently in the early stages of an acquisition programme for three inshore and three offshore patrol vessels (Project Biro) to replace a number of older ships and boats employed in this role. It is keen that other African navies join it in buying these vessels.        
Previous reports have indicated a 90m OPV costs some R400 million and a 50m IPV about R250 million, depending on electronics and weapons fit. 
The final paper of the day will speak to the “planned end state” of enhanced regional maritime cooperation.
Tomorrow`s programme is slated to start with a feedback session by US Admiral M Fitzgerald on “maritime progress within their areas of interest”. He expected to brief delegates on the operations of the US 5th Fleet`s Combined Task Force 151 tasked with fighting piracy.     
Next, delegates will hear that to “patrol is to control” and engage in a discussion on the systems required to ensure situational awareness in African EEZs. This will be followed by a paper on regional military training collaboration. The afternoon will be spent at sea where the SA Navy will impress delegates with its prowess.
The focus will Wednesday turn to hydrography, which is seen as a stepping stone to effective EEZ management. This indeed is the topic of the next paper, after which the SA Maritime Safety Authority and speakers from France, Germany, Russia and Sao Tome e Principe will provide “feedback on maritime progress” in their respective areas. After this the conference will wrap up with a set of resolutions and closing remarks by SA Navy chief Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu.