The Chief of the South African Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu has called on the about 100 delegates at defenceWeb’s 2009 Maritime Security for Africa Conference in Cape Town to produce solutions that will enhance Africa’s regional and continental maritime security.
Speaking at defenceWeb’s inaugural maritime security conference, Mudimu in a keynote address said that the assembled practitioners, industry players and academics were gathered at the city’s Waterfront “to collectively deliberate our future destiny, by ensuring that sea blindness does not hamper the prosperity and well being of the people of our country and continent.
“This maritime conference will focus the participants on the various aspects of Maritime Safety and Security, and my hope is that you will retain a distinct African flavour during your deliberations so as to produce solutions that will enhance Africa’s regional and continental maritime security.
“The secret of success will lay in our ability to walk the talk,” the admiral said.
He also reported back to his audience on some of the issues discussed at the 19th International Seapower Symposium held in Newport Rhode Island from October 6-9.
The conference was attended by more than one hundred nations, ninety of which were represented by their chiefs of Navy.
“The overriding message I bring to you is twofold; firstly, the global maritime community is faced with similar and expanding challenges that transcend national border and across political boundaries.
“And secondly; navies are required to co-operate with each other, and all other maritime stakeholders, that will then enable us to be employed in such a manner so as to ensure a safe and prosperous maritime environment for all, Mudimu said.
“I came out of this conference hungry to see the navies of our continent playing a role that supports national security efforts in individual countries through collaboration, co-operation and exchange of information.
“Africa was represented by twenty countries and one representative from the African Union, who reported in his contribution that the African Union is busy producing a Maritime Policy for Africa.
“This therefore means, that if this Maritime Policy is for Africa, we need to roll up our sleeves, know what it contains and who the participants and participate actively in all process that will lead up to an adoption of that policy.
“Therefore your 2009 Maritime Security for Africa Conference has come at an appropriate time and is in line with all other regional conferences.
“Further more, I recently attended the 2009 Chief of the Naval Staff Annual Conference held in Nigeria which discussed the Nigerian Navy’s role to ensure the safety and security of their sea lines of communications within their maritime zones and how to position themselves as a navy that is capable of exercising local sea control, and how to build consensus in the region and promote co-operation in the West coast with the Navy’s situated there,” Mudimu added.
“Africa requires to grow its capabilities to effectively control our maritime zones. We require innovative thinking to solve the security challenges that face our vast continent remembering that lakes and rivers connect us to the seas through the numerous harbours that makes trade and growth possible.
“The vast resources of hydrocarbon and protein that the sea holds requires continues monitoring and control to ensure that our people benefit fully from our marine wealth and the subsequent accrual of valuable currency to bolster the states income in support of a better life for all.
“More than ninety precent of global trade and seventy precent of the world’s oil is transported by sea. Millions of people live in coastal regions and many sectors of our lives and the well being of many nations depend on the marine environment and this includes the landlocked countries that are critically dependant on sea trade.
Besides the securing of the sea lines of communications by exercising sea control, safe navigation at sea requires an effective and efficient hydrography service to reduce the risks of groundings and collisions that could result in the loss of live and damage to the environment by pollution. This aspect requires close co-operation through capacity building and training on our continent.
“Hence, maritime domain awareness (MDA) is fundamental in ensuring that we are able to detect and track all shipping including those under flags of convenience, know their cargoes, crew and destinations and be able to react to ships in distress, and be ready to share this information with others if they ate to take action.
MDA, Mudimu added “is all about generating actionable intelligence, which is the corner stone of successful maritime law enforcement operations.”
“But, I ask the question, are we capable of sharing this information with our regional partners?
“If the answer is no, then we need to say at this conference what we must do to promote MDA.”
Pic: The SA Navy’s Maritime Reaction Squadron on exercise in Simon’s Town, December 2008.