South African Minister of Defence Charles Nqakula’s keynote address to the 3rd Sea Power Symposium in Cape Town
• Honourable Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa
• Commander of the Naval Forces and Minister of National Defence of Sao Tome and Principe, Her Excellency, Dr Elsa Maria D`Alva Teixeira de Barros Pinto
• Honourable members of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and other Parliamentary officials
• The Acting Secretary for Defence, Mr Motumi
• The Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Ngwenya
• The Chief of the South African Navy, Vice-Admiral Mudimu,
• Members and officials of the Plenary Defence Staff Council
• Chiefs and delegations of the African Continent and Observer Nations
• Senior officials
• Flag Officers, Admirals and Generals
• Senior Officers and officers
• Members of the Diplomatic Corps
• Representatives from our defence industries and maritime organisation
• Honourable guests
• Members of the media
• Ladies and Gentlemen:
The symposium that is starting today, is one of the most important events on the calendar of Africa and talks directly to what we Africans define as the African Agenda. I must hasten to explain, though, 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.
I want to commend the Chiefs of the Navies of Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, whose discussions a number of years ago resulted in the formation of the Sea Power for Africa Symposium. This is the third time that the symposium is being held, and the second time that it comes to Cape Town under the theme: Towards Effective Maritime Governance for Africa.
It is not only those countries that initiated the symposium idea that we must commend. The other countries that joined in must also be praised for the understanding they showed of the importance of maritime cooperation on the part of Africa`s navies.
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.
On the 3 March 2009, South Africa held a Climate Change Summit in Midrand, Gauteng which looked at the means and measures necessary to respond to the challenges of global warming. This issue has for many of us, both inside and outside government moved up the agenda, like many of the other challenges we face today.
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.
I am raising this matter, right at the outset, 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. The tsunami disaster was an early warning.
Any strategic discourse by naval chiefs must include an analysis of the dangers of the seas we navigate.
Several current trends demonstrate that global warming, among other things, is changing the level of water in the seas of the world.
How will the navies of the world respond to an accelerated melting of the ice at the Artic? How will the navies of the world deal with future tsunami-like developments in the sea?
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.
The vastness of the seas which surround the Continent, and the richness of their resources, are an enormous asset to the countries of the Continent. Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources above and below our soil, in our oceans and seas.
Africa is also one of the major choke points and strategic sea routes in the world, namely the Cape Sea Route, others being the Suez Canal, Bab-al-Mandab, and the Straits of Gibraltar. Through effective governance of our maritime resources, the Continent has the potential to develop into an economic power.
However, these maritime resources have attracted illegal operations in our seas such as poaching, drug smuggling, human trafficking, piracy and other forms of organised crime that undermine the human security of our people and robbing them of the resources needed to sustain their state of well-being, growth and development. Such rogue activities not only compromise the maritime and human security of the nations concerned, but also impact on the economic growth of the Continent.
The complex challenges and variety of issues faced by the Continent in maritime matters calls for policymakers to come up with an integrated approach in managing the maritime realm.
Despite initiatives taken by many of our governments, organisations and individuals towards meeting this objective, there is a need for a comprehensive strategic planning of maritime economic activities towards achieving sustainable use of marine and coastal resources. We must attempt to respond to the challenge emanating from this void by proposing several priorities towards achieving sustainable development in the planning of maritime economic activities.
In the last decade, several coastal nations of other regions of the world have undertaken concerted efforts to articulate and implement a more integrated vision for the governance of ocean areas under their jurisdiction. These nations are either our trading partners or our competitors or both.
It goes without saying that we have common interests in ensuring that activities based on the oceans and seas are sustainable. It makes sense therefore, to articulate a common vision and to take an approach, based on common principles and parameters.
A continental maritime vision can only work if it is owned by the citizens of the continent, particularly those who have a stake in sea-based activities.
This can foster the necessary understanding of the relationships involved and of the importance of the seas for human life, our economy and the continent`s well-being.
One of the key things we can do to face these challenges head-on is to move from a fragmented decision and policy-making to a comprehensive style of governance where individual sectors are looked at as part of a whole. The Continent`s vision must be for an integration which takes into account our diversity on all aspects of the relationship we have with the oceans.
Clearly, it is very important that such policies are discussed, debated and agreed upon so as to allow our continental and regional structures such the African Union (AU) to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent; ensuring promotion of peace and security, good governance and democratic institutions.
Since the inaugural Sea Power for Africa Symposium convened in South Africa in August 2005, followed by the second hosted by Nigeria in 2006, enormous strides have been made in between these seminars towards a common approach. Once again, giving recognition to the fact that the economic and social well-being of Africa are fundamentally linked to the effective use and control of our maritime zones and interests.
Furthermore, through the Symposia, the importance of co-operation and coordination in order to improve maritime awareness in our countries, and to foster closer maritime ties and relationships between the respective navies of Africa, is affirmed. From our vintage point, the developmental interest of the African continent will be foremost at this symposium.
The next three days will afford us the opportunity to engage our collective wisdom in deliberating on a range of issues including maritime safety and security, areas of co-operation and collaboration, Africa`s Maritime Training and Acquisition Systems and Africa`s Exclusive Economic Zones.
These issues are particularly pertinent, not only to this Symposium, but also to furthering the African Agenda, and strengthening regional, Continental and International relations. In so doing, we are able to lend support to our Continental and Regional structures in giving effect to the agenda of a fairer trade dispensation, good governance, the consolidation of democratic values, social justice and creating the necessary conditions for sustainable development.
Adopting a maritime perspective, this implies that a number of key challenges and opportunities need to be collectively addressed. These include
• the charting of Africa`s Maritime Zones,
• the maritime safety and security of the Continent,
• piracy and maritime crime which, as we have alluded to previously, takes place with frequency off the coasts of Africa,
• controlling our maritime choke points and resource areas
• enhancing African Regional maritime co-operation, and collaboration, and
• under-taking maritime disaster management.
The freedom of the seas and the effective use of its resources to enhance the expanding need for a better quality of life and liberty of our citizens are part of the obligations and responsibilities of our African Maritime Community. Let this understanding spur us on in the search for answers to some of the difficulties we face as we deal with the challenges of the seas we navigate.
Of course, we will wait eagerly for the resolutions of your deliberations, so that, working together, we can implement them as we advance the course of the people we serve.
I thank you.