Specialist Maritime Services (SMS) is a fully compliant, accredited South African business registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), with a vision to bring sustainable peace through security and economic development utilising preferred local partners.
SMS’s mission is to provide information and access while facilitating introductions, first phase infrastructure development and logistics in challenging countries, communities and environments throughout the African continent, while ensuring a safe and secure platform of operation.
SMS has its origins in the maritime security industry and continues to evolve and develop strategic thinking using its legitimacy, extensive African network and excellent reach and mobility on the African continent. SMS develops strategic local partnerships that are identified and managed by SMS in accordance with the client’s needs, while remaining cognisant of local sensitivities and perceptions through mutual respect and understanding.
Through these actions, SMS strives to operate with credible local businessmen and entrepreneurs while providing service delivery of an international standard for health, safety, security and environment quality assurance (HSSE QA). In addition, using vetted local content partners, the client is encouraged to contribute to sustainable socioeconomic development in the areas of operation, thereby leveraging social stability in order to be continuously successful with long-term operations in Africa.
SMS recently completed a commissioned anti-piracy feasibility study in Somalia. The mandate of this project was to gather information for government agencies to assess and implement projects in line with NEPAD. The identified projects would have to contribute to the eradication of piracy by providing technical assistance and support for establishing a coast guard while addressing the landward reality of piracy, which is being launched for financial gain at the expense of the broader economy. An emphasis of the study was to identify elements that are key to creating sustainable socioeconomic development. A number of infrastructure development and socioeconomic development projects have been identified and scoped. The mission to carry out the study received approval from the UN Security Council.
The Somalia study commenced with recruiting specialists who had worked in Somalia for three years and then developing a study methodology around their experience and expertise. This was followed by a delegation which then travelled to Somalia and included Mogadishu and Garowe.
The future is dependent on infrastructure and economic development
The study identified the successes of Puntland and recommended that this model could be modified and rolled down towards Mogadishu. It also further identified immediate social impact projects including the training of soft skills in the maritime sector and providing a plan for additional port logistics equipment to assist with the development of port throughput.
Further to this it recommended that participating governments, with regard to the security strategy of coast guard and maritime security efforts, develop a more collaborative approach. The problem to implementation lies with funding and resources and therefore any effort that is isolated or seen to be from an individual country is destined to fail.
There is an immediate need for developing skills in leadership and governance, and South Africa is well placed to assist in this domain. South Africa has provided the backbone to training and skills transfer in Puntland with the establishment of the PMPF. There are numerous soft skills, which can be developed, and training in areas such as logistics, project management and general administration are needed.
SMS has chosen to engage with South African knowledge partners to assist in this regard and aims to have a presence in Somalia within the coming months, with the aim of creating a secure environment to explore opportunities of infrastructure and economic development.
Overall, the project has resulted in a very good situational awareness in the region and an extensive network was developed, including the bold initiative of registering and establishing a local content partnership to form SMS Somalia.
 NEPAD: New Partnership for African Development. Influential foreign policy directive influencing government policy across Africa.