South African defence minister Charles Nqakula says maritime security is key to building the African Agenda.
Speaking at the opening of the 3rd Sea Power for Africa Symposium in Cape Town, the minister added that the African Agenda “is not a political programme that seeks to shift Africa away from global developments but, a programme that seeks to empower the Continent to play an effective role within the ranks of the world community of nations.
“It is a programme that seeks to raise the input of all the countries of Africa in the consolidation of Africa`s developmental agenda, as it relates, especially, to peace, stability, security and prosperity,” he added.
“There are many challenges the navies of the world must help us confront relating to the usage of the sea for the sustenance of life. Our law in South Africa, among other things, enjoins the South African National Defence Force, in its service to the people inside the country or in international waters, to preserve life, health, or property, in emergency or humanitarian relief operations.
“The demands for interventions to preserve life, health and protect property, as well as rendering humanitarian relief in international waters, will continue to be part of the life of the navies of the world.
“Scientific discovery and analysis have determined, in clear and unambiguous terms, that the phenomenon of climate change presents a serious danger to life in its broadest sense.”
Nqakula says he is raising this matter “because it must be one of those things that naval experts like you should accept as a key task. A rise in the levels of the water in the seas around the world will be a particular challenge to the navies of the world.” He said the tsunami disaster of December 2006 was an early warning.
“Any strategic discourse by naval chiefs must include an analysis of the dangers of the seas we navigate.”
“Of course, that is not the only matter the navies of the world will have to contend with. What about future outbreaks of diseases of epidemic proportions, especially on the African Continent, where it may be necessary to evacuate large numbers of patients, where the only place to accommodate and render medical attention to them may be huge ships in the nearby sea?
“Such ships may also be the best vehicles to ferry food to disaster areas of major proportions.
“The Continent`s considerable, strategic interest in the seas begs serious attention to the governance and administration of its oceanic and maritime affairs. The countries of the Continent, therefore, must continue to cooperate with each other on trans-boundary maritime issues to enhance the standard and governance thereof.
Nqakula added it was important not just to discuss these issues, but it is “also important for politicians to listen to such input.”