Paper: Collaborating towards training success


There is the need to identify these maritime training services that are available on the continent and see how best countries can collaborate and co-operate for the success of the continent.

1.        Vice Admiral Mudimu, Chief of the South African Navy, our host, Service Chiefs, most distinguished invited guests, commanders, senior officers, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great delight and honour for me to have this opportunity to speak to such a distinguished audience on the issue of “AFRICA`s REGIONAL MARITIME TRAINING SERVICES” and share my thoughts with you on how collaboration and co-operation among African nations can enhance the achievement of our collective goals. I wish to convey my gratitude to the organizers of this symposium for spear heading such a laudable forum. Your resilience and determination to ensure that the light that was lit some five years ago to bring African nations together bi-annually to share ideas on how to move this continent forward is kept burning. The topic of my presentation is “AFRICA`s REGIONAL MARITIME SERVICES: COLLABORATION AND CO-OPERATION TOWARDS SUCCESS”.
2.        Maritime activity is as ancient as human history. From time immemorial, man has always used the sea for various purposes. The sea that surrounds this beautiful continent, offers enormous opportunities to the littoral countries, principally as a means of communication and also as a source of subsistence. The sea or maritime environment, unlike land, can be harsh and requires a lot of effort and enormous resources to benefit from its usage and also contain the challenges it poses. It is therefore important that mankind appreciates and acquires good understanding of the environment to be able to operate within the maritime space effectively.
3.        Maritime training services are dotted all over the continent. In spite of these numerous services that abound on the continent maximum use have not been made of them for the good of the countries. There is the need to identify these maritime training services that are available on the continent and see how best countries can collaborate and co-operate for the success of the continent. The theme of the symposium is “TOWARDS EFFECTIVE MARITIME GOVERNANCE FOR AFRICA“. Maritime security is a shared concern and consequently requires a collective approach and collaboration. Collective approach and collaboration maximize individual potential and capabilities resulting in an effective and efficient regional security regime. It is in the light of this that we find the symposium a giant step in the right direction.
4.        In pursuance of this goal, it has thus become necessary to brainstorm and come up with ideas on ways that African countries can position themselves to address this issue.
5.        My aim during this period is to share with you my thoughts on how African countries can collaborate and co-operate to utilize their Regional Maritime Training Services for the success of the continent.
6.        The following areas will be looked at:
            a.         Common Maritime Challenges.
            b.        An overview of the maritime training services in Africa.
            c.         Areas Requiring Training /Education /Collaboration /Cooperation.
            d.        Merits of Collaboration/Role Specialisation of Maritime Training Services in the Region.
            e.         Constraints
            f.         Way forward
7.        Until the late 80s the situation in the oceans bordering the continent had been quiet and provided the environment needed for commercial activities. However, the situation has turned around to make this environment very unstable due to activities of pirates and drug smugglers. The threats facing the littoral countries of Africa are piracy, marine environmental pollution, drugs smuggling, human trafficking, weapons smuggling, poaching and illegal bunkering. These activities are so inimical to these countries that they lose millions of dollars each year. Meanwhile, these monies could have gone a long way to solve some of the problems of these developing countries.
8.        Piracy has become a household name in Africa because of the impunity with which pirates from Somalia take over ships and demand high ransom. People who take to piracy become rich overnight. The result is that vessels are no more prepared to risk doing business in such areas let alone use any route close by. Insurance companies are no longer willing to insure vessels which ply that unsafe zone, if they did; the premium is so high that business does not become attractive. High premiums paid will definitely be transferred to the consumer resulting in high prices of goods and services and these affect business.
9.        Huge ransom demanded by the pirates when paid could be ploughed back in procuring more arms and ammunition for the perpetrators to continue with their illegal activities. This has resulted in that region being unstable. The ‘neighbourhood effect` of Somalian piracy on Nigerian and Camerounian waters has become a worrisome development as acts of piracy are reported from time to time.
10.      Another major problem confronting the continent is the frequent use of her seas to smuggle cocaine and other dangerous drugs from other countries. Some countries of the continent have become transit points for smuggling of hard drugs to the western countries. These callous activities of drug barons using the seas to smuggle drugs into the continent before re-exporting them to the western countries, has not only created bad name for the continent but also left serious drug addiction problems behind. The resources that will be spent to rehabilitate these addicted people could have been spent on other projects that would have benefitted the larger society. Naval Maritime Forces must be trained, equipped and prepared to detect, deter, interdict and defeat those that are engaged in these criminal or hostile acts in the maritime domain.
11.      Combating these challenges sometime require multinational effort. A typical example is the situation off the Horn of Africa, where the USA and other European and Asian fleet are helping to combat piracy. The oil assets and the trade routes of the Gulf of Guinea need to be protected in the wake of the Nigerian oil crisis. Sometime one country cannot go it all out by herself and will require active collaboration and co-operation of other countries to assist. In the particular case of Africa where finance is always a problem it stands to reason that the only option out is for the countries to collaborate and co-operation with other countries.
12.      Before most African countries gained independence from their colonial masters, maritime training services were provided by these colonial masters. The few facilities that were available at that time were fully manned by personnel from those foreign countries with few locals benefitting from such training services. In post independence era, the countries made deliberate attempts to provide most of these training services as a way of proving to other countries that they have also come of age. Consequently, these countries were awash with some of these facilities after their independence.
 13.     Sadly however, the euphoria to acquire these services as a matter of national pride was short lived in some of these countries, possibly because they found them to be capital intensive and could not afford to sustain the momentum.  Most of the facilities that were in existence after the attainment of independence were run down because of lack of funds to maintain them.  Let us look a bit into detail the training services that are available on the African continent.
            North Africa
a.                 Algeria
(1)       Institut des Sciences de la Mer et de L`Amenagement du littoral (ISMAL)
(2)       Institut Superior Maritime (ISM)
            b.        Egypt
(1)       Arab Academy for Science & Technology & Marine Transportation (AASTMT)
(2)       College of Engineering & Technology
(3)       College of Maritime Transport & Technology
(4)       Integrated Simulators Complex (ISC)
(5)       Port Training Institution (PTI)
(6)       Alexandria University & Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering Department
            c.         Tunisia
                        (1)       Academie Naval
                        (2)       Ecole de la Marine Marchande
East Africa
a.                 Tanzania      
(1)             Dar Es Salam Maritime Institute
(2)             Mbegani Fish Dev Centre
West Africa
a.                 Cote D`Ivoire
Academie Regional des Sciences et Techniques de la Mer (ARSTM)
            b.        Ghana
                        (1)       Regional Maritime University
                        (2)       Department of Fisheries & Oceanography
b.                 Nigeria
(1)             Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron
(2)             Federal College of Fisheries & Marine Technology, Bar Beach
(3)             Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research Victoria Island
(4)             River State University of Technology, Port Harcourt
                        South Africa
a.                 Malawi
Malawi Marine Training College
b.                 South Africa
(1)             Governmental Cape Technikon – Department of Maritime Studies
(2)             Governmental Technikon Natal – Department of Maritime Studies
(3)             Governmental Training for Seamen
(4)             Unicorn Marine Training School – Unicorn Lines
(5)             Wingfield Technical College
(6)             South African Maritime Training Academy
14.      There are so many sectors in the maritime training services that seafarers can receive training. It is important that people looking for employment in the maritime industry must be trained to ensure accidents and other mishaps are reduced to the minimum. The following areas are among the vast specialized areas where training needs to be conducted for sea farers:
            a.         Maritime Safety & Emergency Procedures Training.
            b.        Naval Basic and Specialisation Training.
            c.         Marine Engineering Training.
            d.        Marine Petro-chemical Training.
            e.         Marine Environmental Crisis Management Training.
            f.         Maritime Logistics Training.
            g.         Maritime Security Programme.
            h.        EEZ Management & Operations Programme.
            i.          Marine Operational Skills & Safety.
            j.          Marine Transportation.
            k.         Naval Architecture.
            l.          Dockyard Services.
15.      To be able to deal effectively and efficiently with the challenges facing littoral countries means these countries should have maritime domain awareness. This is the ability to know exactly what goes on in one`s maritime environment at any point in time. The provision of key infrastructure for maritime training services that will equip countries to deal with the challenges, require capital intensive investment and these are beyond the reach of most African countries.  
16.      Apart from the government owned institutions that provide the training services, certain private companies have established such institutions and are contributing very much in that field. The Unicorn Training School in South Africa for example, was the first company that operated maritime training centre which catered initially for its own seafarers. That role has grown to a point where more than two thousand local seafarers and personnel from over twenty foreign countries received training last year in fire fighting, first aid, safety at sea and advanced courses for senior tanker officers.
17.       Training on offer in South Africa to seafarers from other African countries is in line with the government`s NEPAD initiative and as such, could play an even more important role in upgrading maritime infrastructure of countries to the north. Despite the current high levels of local training, there are two significant gaps in the training continuum. Trainees leaving the Technikons find it difficult to gain cadetships for the required initial sea experience owing to insufficient berths available at sea. This appears to be a product of current maritime legislation and the failure to introduce legislative revisions to attract ships to the local register. Trends in the international charter market make it economically preferable for local operators to charter foreign-flagged tonnage so that all large ships on the South African trade or operated by South African companies now are registered abroad. Apart from a few, locally-operated vessels carry foreign crews. If any African country whose national ships can possibly make available berths on her ships to assist with the provision of practical training for such cadets who are turned out yearly from these training institutions then we can be seen to be co-operating well on our training services. These problems are not peculiar to South Africa alone, but it is the wider picture of the situation in other African countries.
18.      The scope of maritime training services are wide and varied hence, it will be difficult for any single country to provide all these by herself. Efforts have been made in the past to pool resources so that these infrastructures could be put up in one country for others to access. Apart from few countries where this idea has become a reality, most of the countries still prefer to go it all alone. The challenges that confront our littoral countries where maritime training is required to address the situation are poaching, oil rig protection, piracy and drug trafficking. Let us look at them a bit in detail:
a.         Poaching.     Poaching has become a canker to the littoral countries. Countries lose billions of dollars annually through poaching and other illegal activities that take place out at sea. The poachers come in with sophisticated trawlers and virtually rid the sea of fish. The ability of African countries to procure the necessary platforms to help arrest such activities has become a herculean problem for most nations while the poachers continue to have a field day out there.
b.        Oil Rig Protection. Some countries have recently struck oil and rigs have started mushrooming at sea.  All these assets need to be guarded and protected to avoid thugs from taking advantage to create havoc and allow countries to get maximum benefit from the investment. It is here that maritime training services come in handy to ensure qualified personnel are turned out to operate, man, and provide protection to these facilities.
c.         Piracy.           Piracy as has been mentioned earlier is becoming a serious problem in Africa. It must be borne in mind that at least eighty percent of our goods are transported by sea. If activities of pirates are not checked countries stand to lose economically since goods cannot be transported by sea.
d.        Drug Trafficking.    The West African sub-region has gained the notoriety of being a transit point for hard drugs that are smuggled from the South American continent.  The drugs arrive mostly by sea and are then re-packaged before sending them by air to the western countries. This has not only created a bad image for the sub-region but has made travelers from this part of the continent to go through extra searches at foreign airports which at times are very demeaning to the people. There is the need for training to assist naval and other agencies to track down people involved in these nefarious activities.
19.      From the mentioned challenges, it is obvious that littoral states should have effective maritime training in the areas mentioned so that the challenges could be confronted. But the question that readily comes to one`s mind always is how many of these countries can really afford the cost of maritime training infrastructure to enable them effectively deal with the challenges. The result is that perpetrators of these criminal acts at sea will continue to have a field day out there.
20.      The suggestion that countries should pool their resources should however not be misconstrued to mean that countries should relegate their primary responsibility to the sub-regional or regional grouping or surrender their sovereignty, but in the face of economic difficulties it makes a lot of sense to pool resources to help the countries safeguard vital interest.
21.      It will be in the collective interest of Africa for countries with comparable advantage to specialize in a particular service which will be patronized by countries within the sub-region. For instance, the Regional Maritime University (RMU) in Ghana which existed as a national seafarers college – Ghana Nautical College is now a maritime training university jointly owned by Ghana, Cameroun, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gambia. The RMU trains seafarers from the sub-region. Between Aug 07 and Dec 08 the institution trained three thousand eight hundred and twelve (3,812) seafarers from the sub-region on IMO mandatory and other short courses, while five hundred and thirty five (535) had received training in academic & upgrading programmes. By such compromise countries can have enough to spend in other areas of their economy. The South African Maritime Training Academy is also a typical example of a maritime training service for the Southern Africa sub-region.
22.      In an article written by Brian Ingpen on the Potential for Maritime Training in South Africa in the Sea Watch on 31 October 2002, the author argued that aspects of local maritime training are fragmented and since resources are split, a common focus on some of the real issues is lacking. What Brian wants to put across is simply that even within a country, duplication of a particular service is not required. He went further to cite the example of acquisition of additional simulation training centres being planned for South Africa apart from the Technikons, the Navy, Wingfield College, and the Port Academy. This he described as fragmentation of training and is not only costly but could result in ineffective use of the facilities as the respective parties throw resources into marketing rather than into the content of the courses on offer. The simple concern expressed by Brian is a true reflection of what pertains in the bigger society of Africa. Currently, there are naval training institutions in Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa. It is worth noting that Ghana has been a beneficiary of South Africa`s naval training institution at Simmon`s Town for the past six years as well as engineering college at Sapele in Nigeria. Ghana Navy has also trained ratings of Sierra Leonean Defence Force in various specialization. This is a typical way that African countries can co-operate on the use of maritime training services.
23.      Within this big regional body there are sub-regional groupings whose main purpose I believe is to assist improve on the well being of the respective countries. When one moves from one country within the sub-region he is confronted with duplication of these maritime service facilities. Majority of these countries are poor and instead of concentrating on a service that they are best suited for, rather decide to spread their resources thin on so many of these services which end up not making any impact on their economy. How can our countries be successful? Time has come for us to take a second look at these services with the view to ceding off some to other countries so that we can collaborate and patronize them.
24.      There are so many African countries that cannot effectively patrol their EEZ.  The domain awareness by these countries can confidently be described as zero and does not in anyway assist in checking of illegal activities out at sea. What should be borne in mind is that the inability of a country to effectively and efficiently monitor, control and surveil its EEZ creates problem for her neighbours. The idea of forming sub-regional coast guard to patrol the waters of coastal countries that was mooted sometime ago has not been given the necessary attention. This requires new and enhanced partnership/co-operation/collaboration in training as well as cost and burden sharing between states to resolve problems of inter-operabiIity that are associated with combined operations. The more African countries begin to collaborate and co-operate on their maritime training services, the better we begin to understand ourselves. It will further enable us develop African solutions to our peculiar problems and begin to assume collective security of the continent. I pray that representatives will go back and brief their governments through the appropriate channel to bring the idea of forming sub-regional coast guard up once more for consideration. I am more than convinced that this is a good proposal which if accepted will go a long way to assist countries towards achieving our common goals.
25.      The African Partnership Station (APS) which is an initiative by the US government is aimed to supplement the littoral countries ability to effectively monitor and ensure their maritime space is safe. This is achieved by training lectures and exercises that are organized by the US Navy for the recipient nation. Even though, this partnership started effectively last year replacing the former bi-annual training that was conducted, there are signs that it will be a success story.  It has succeeded in building capacity and bringing agencies to collaborate well among themselves within countries and the sub-region to improve monitoring and enforcement capabilities through enhanced co-operation at all levels. There is the need for us as Africans to collaborate and co-operate on our maritime training services.
26.      There are serious constraints that confront the continent in her forward movement to collaborate and co-operate on her maritime training services. A few have been mentioned here for our study. They are economic, political, social, and technological issues. Let`s look at them in further detail:
a.         Economic.    Maritime training services require capital intensive projects whose funding for their establishment and maintenance has been a big challenge for most African countries. Countries can begin to consider the idea of role specialization so that minimum funds are spent on spent on the provision.
            b.        Political. The various states may not want to subject their sovereignty to other nations because of national pride. The political will to commit funds to maritime training projects and programmes is lacking when there are competing social intervention programmes that bring in votes to the ruling governments even when the benefits from investing in maritime projects are overwhelming.
c.         Technological.         It is a known fact that Africa lacks behind in the field of technological advancement. Since Africa cannot keep up with the pace of technology, the equipment used for training will continue to be obsolete compared with those in current use elsewhere.
27.      Looking at the constraints that have been enumerated, the possible way forward might be as fols:
a.         Grouping of African littoral states in sub-regional groups along the lines of the existing economic/political groupings for the purpose of collaborating and co-operating on our maritime training services.
b.        Identify states with comparatively/core competence in the various areas that require education and training so that such institutions can be established within those countries for others to access.
c.         Supporting the idea of formation of sub-regional coast guards to assist patrol their entire coastline to help rid the sea areas of illegal activities.
d.        Training audit to ensure all training provided is in accordance with Seafarer’s Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW). When this is done organizers of maritime training services will be held in check to prevent turning out half baked personnel from their institutions.
28.      Vice Admiral Mudimu, Service Chiefs, distinguished guests, I have within the past forty minutes or so tried to identify the situation in the African waters which can be described to an extent to be unstable. The problems of piracy, drug trafficking, illegal bunkering, poaching, marine environmental pollution and weapons smuggling have bedeviled this continent.  There are a few maritime training institutions within the continent yet countries are not collaborating well to effectively co-operate to ensure optimal usage of the limited services. There is the need for African countries to take a serious look at maritime training and pool resources to derive maximum benefit from the few institutions on the continent. Time is ripe for us to get together to fully utilize them. Thank You.