20 in 2022

It seems like it was a completely different universe that we launched the magazine in – and in some ways it was. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the magazine and its various platforms and I feel extremely proud that we not only survived the serious outfall of 2008, but have also managed to navigate the last two years of the COVID pandemic – albeit with a bit of fumbling.

We have some interesting initiatives planned to mark this milestone, but we cannot ignore the current economic and social climate that we are operating in. The last two years have brought some challenges and hard lessons, but have also given us the kick we needed to start to re-strategise how Maritime Review sees its future within the maritime Business-to-Business publishing environment.

Having left 2021 with a full blown dose of COVID’s omicron variant and entered this New Year still trying to return to health, I have a new perspective of what those who suffered through the earlier, less mild versions of the virus must have had to endure. I am grateful to have had a vaccination and to have only fallen ill at this stage.

In the spirit of this gratefulness and the start of my 20 in 2022 series, I would like to express what else we at the magazine are grateful for:

20 reasons to be grateful in 2022

  1. We are grateful to clients that supported the launch of the magazine in 2002.
  2. We are grateful to the clients that continued to support the magazine since then.
  3. We are grateful to the clients who have committed to supporting the title going forward.
  4. We are grateful to the many maritime stalwarts who have provided their input over the years.
  5. We are grateful for the new-comers that are beginning to stir up the industry.
  6. We are grateful for the prompts from industry about potential stories that should be written.
  7. We are grateful for those that supported some of our stranger initiatives like the Flash Mob and the Maritime Scrabble Tournament.
  8. We are grateful to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for their generous support of the Maritime Industry Awards gala events that we hope one day to relaunch.
  9. We are grateful to those that told us when we got facts wrong.
  10. We are grateful to clients like AMSOL (and their predecessors) who have been constant loyal supporters of our many initiatives.
  11.  We are grateful that the maritime industry continues to be an interesting and diverse sector with sub-sectors that assure that our work is seldom boring.
  12. We are grateful to have partnered with many event organisers over the years and look forward to continuing to do so.
  13. We are grateful to our followers on social media who remain engaged and vocal.
  14. We are grateful for the opportunities to collaborate with maritime stakeholders on the publishing of maritime related textbooks and handbooks.
  15. We are grateful to those who have agreed to be interviewed on the record about some of the more prickly subjects.
  16. We are grateful that many of our clients in the maritime sectors were seen as essential services during the beginning phases of the pandemic.
  17. We are grateful to have been witness to the launch of a number of locally-built vessels.
  18. We are grateful to have celebrated maritime milestones with many companies and individuals.
  19. We are grateful to have seen new companies launched and flourish.
  20. We are grateful that there are still opportunities for the title after 20 years.

Getting take-aways

Yesterday I picked up some maritime take-aways that did not involve fish and chips.

I accepted an invite to participate in a Maritime Security Roundtable hosted by the Institute for Security Studies Africa (ISS Africa) with a bit of trepidation based on my concern that I would not be able to add much value. Joining a group of varied maritime stakeholders, the discussion was interesting as well as diverse and highlighted several important issues that provided some important take-aways.

  • The marine and maritime space is far-reaching and complex in nature – making any discussion on governance and security equally diverse and complex.
  • Significant work is being done theoretically, academically and practically to improve South Africa’s and Africa’s ability to manage its own maritime domain – but much of this is not immediately visible or apparent.
  • This lack of visibility is, in part, due to the diverse range of stakeholders involved across government and industry – with the consequence of some duplication and gaps occurring.
  • While many consider Operation Phakisa a failed initiative, it did manage to provide deliverables in some areas. One such success is the creation of the Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) within SAMSA.
  • An Ocean Economy Master Plan is scheduled to be completed by December this year – outlining aspects of the maritime economy that require attention and offer opportunity. Although the process is being driven by government, labour and industry, there is still a perception that it is being held behind closed doors by some.
  • There is a lack of willingness to coordinate data from the industry to help make over-arching decisions, with many government departments, NGOs and Universities all accumulating research without an understanding of what has already been undertaken in the space.
  • Coastal communities are often not part of the discussions for solutions and/or their specific challenges are not understood within the context of the historical and present dynamics.
  • Training within the maritime space needs to be offset against actual employment opportunities. Training for unemployment cannot be an option.
  • There appears to be a lack of review of policies to understand where interventions have worked and where they have not. In addition, policy briefs are often ignored or not produced.
  • The slow pace of policy as well as legal instrument development is a massive problem with important legislation often becoming stalled and remaining in the pipeline for many years.
  • It was suggested that a major maritime disaster or set-back may be needed to strengthen government’s resolve to tackle a number of issues that remain unresolved.
  • A dedicated maritime department within government was once again discussed as a solution to coordinating the maritime efforts of the country; and that the maritime agenda needs to be raised more often within government structures.
  • While regional and continental bodies exist, these cannot override national interests. The AU needs to strengthen its maritime desk.
  • In the absence of true collaboration and visibility; many private companies are simply just getting on with it while policy and government strategy lags behind.

At the end of the day, most agreed that adding another maritime intervention or initiative to the space would simply further the fragmentation of efforts. More collaboration and coordination are the ultimate solutions. Sadly, this is a common refrain and will take significant effort for stakeholders to pay more than lip service to the notion of breaking down silos.

Thank you to my hosts and fellow-panellists for a most interesting afternoon of discussions. It was also good to get out from behind the computer screen and zoom meetings to engage in person – albeit behind masks.

My final comments

Last week I joined a panel to discuss Women in Maritime. Over the last few years I have participated in a number of similar discussions and felt privileged to have been invited to do so, but I have decided to make my final comments on this issue in this blog.

As of today – 26 October 2021 – this is where I believe the industry stands with regard to promoting and enabling the careers of women. I want to touch on a couple of frequently deliberated topics that pop up in these webinars:


[If you happen to be reading this blog post from some date far in the future –
I do hope that more change has occurred and that the actual content of this post is redundant.


Is the maritime industry a male-dominated industry?
Yes it is.

Is gender transformation being actively pursued?
Yes it is, but it needs to be realistically addressed.

Is it currently more difficult for women than men to advance in the maritime industry?
The industry consists of so many sectors and sub-sectors that some of these remain more challenging for women than for men. One is likely to find it more challenging in the offshore environment as a woman for a number of reasons that are currently being addressed within the industry.

One also only has to look at the composition of many multi-national companies’ executives and boards to understand that women are not being considered for these positions – which makes people assume that a female here and there is simply a token appointment even if she is not.

Some significant progress has, however, been made in the government and parastatal space where the increase in women representation over the last few years is self-evident. International and national industry associations are also playing an important role in identifying capable women leaders.

What can women contribute to the industry?
Women are able to contribute in the same way men are able to contribute. Women can arrive at a place of work and, provided that they have had access to the same opportunities and training, can do exactly what men can do at that place of work – whatever that place of work represents across the maritime sectors.

How can men ensure that they are allies in the workplace?
Men simply need to be decent human beings in the same way that women need to be decent human beings in any workplace. A good start for some men, however, is to drop the micro-aggressions that suggest that you have made the assumption that your female work colleague may not know as much as you or may have a different work ethic to you simply because she is a woman before she is able to disprove or prove this.

Also – drop the male bravado. We do not need “locker room talk” – not even in the locker room contrary to what Trump may have permitted many to believe.

Oh – and get a little more creative than industry golf days or soccer tournaments to foster community. Seriously, both of these sports have traditionally concentrated on attracting men; and women remain under-represented. It is possible to literally count the number of lady golfers at these networking/fundraising days on one hand. And I really do not think it remains the task of women to consider playing golf, simply because this was a networking activity chosen by men in the distant past.

What advice would you give to young women entering/rising in the industry?
Get on with it. Show up and speak up. Do not see yourself as a token employee, but rather as a valuable asset that your company obviously saw potential in when they hired you. Prove them right. Never stop learning and seek mentors as well as collaborators. And when you inevitably succeed – gaze down the talent pipeline and act as a mentor and collaborator with the next generation coming up behind you.

What is the role of women leaders in the maritime industry?
The role of women leaders is, and will always be, the same as the role of male leaders:

  • To grow the industry sustainably.
  • To provide space for the next generation of men and women to gain skills, experience and expertise.
  • To mentor, provide opportunities and construct succession plans to ensure sustainability.
  • To foster accountability and collaboration.
  • To retire – satisfied in the knowledge that the industry is in good hands.

What should the future employment landscape of the maritime industry look like?
Assuming that the industry has done the work to promote awareness across a diversity of platforms and geographic areas – the ideal future hiring ethos should be based purely on merit. No person wants to be employed as the token anything (gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation).

Sadly we are not there yet – and equally sadly, the notion of quotas still needs to be considered as some companies resist acknowledging the benefits of voluntarily embracing diversity in the interest of a homogenous company culture.

I am sure that there is more to be said, but I do hope that we can step beyond these conversations and simply get on with what needs to be done. There are also some excellent women-orientated industry organisations and associations that understand that this is not simply a topic that needs to be addressed in isolation of our male colleagues. They are – and will continue to – address these issues until the time such discussions become superfluous.

Calling it a day

What happens when you wake up on any particular day and you realise that today is THAT day?

I’ve often wondered what goes into the creation of a day. Not in terms of how the sun rises and sets or anything else relating to the laws of nature – but rather: who decides on the creation of international days that recognise various topics or groups, and how does one go about getting the world to agree to mark it on their calendar?

Today is International Maritime Day 2021. The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country, but it is always held during the last week of September.

According to sources on the internet, World Maritime Day was first held on March 17, 1978 to mark the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force in 1958. 

Traditionally (before the advent of COVID-19) a country would be chosen to host a parallel event. Last year would have seen South Africa step up to meet the challenge of hosting international maritime dignitaries had travel not been impeded by the pandemic.

As such the pomp and ceremony has been replaced by virtual commemorations and observances of the date. The theme for this year reflects a clear need to raise awareness of seafarersʹ crucial role in world trade and increase their visibility. The crew change crisis in 2020 highlighted seafarersʹ contribution as key and essential workers on the front line of delivering vital goods through a pandemic and in ordinary times. The international community has seen how the ability for shipping services and seafarers to ensure the functioning of the global supply chains has been central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.

Sadly, however, a day of observance is just that. Since the start of the pandemic we have observed two International Seafarer Days and now two World Maritime Days – and still seafarers are struggling against unfriendly regimes and port authorities in some places.

And so, as everyone scrambles to show that they know what day it is and prove that they care by sharing messages on social media and distributing press releases about how they intend to observe the day – we lose sight of the day’s underlying intention. Everyone simply observes the day and tomorrow carries on with their business as usual.

Well – next month is Maritime Month in South Africa and our challenge should be to act on the many resolutions we have made in conferences, workshops and seminars over the years that remain unfulfilled.

In fact – we should make all the days we have in our calendar count.

DATEDAY OF OBSERVATIONINCEPTION
23 MarchWorld Meteorological Day2021
2 MayWorld Tuna Day2016
5 JuneInternational Day for Fighting against IUU Fishing2016
8 JuneWorld Oceans Day1992
25 JuneInternational Day of the Seafarer2016
25 JulyWorld Drowning Prevention Day2021
30 JulyWorld Day against Trafficking in Persons2013
27 SeptWorld Tourism Day1980
SeptWorld Maritime Day1978
5 NovWorld Tsunami Awareness Day2015
LIST OF UNITED NATIONS DAY OF OBSERVANCES RELATING TO THE OCEAN

Running aground

When a ship runs aground, a team of experienced salvors, surveyors and mariners come together to ensure that she is safely refloated and either sent to the dry dock for repairs or scuppered at sea. During this time, the public is kept abreast of the progress and made aware of any potential environmental danger that the casualty poses to the marine environment. Behind the scenes a host of inter-agency and inter-departmental decision-making is taking place and a cohesive statement of details is presented to ensure that the relay of factual information is continuously available.

We ran aground and ignored some of this protocol.

With one of the biggest assets in our fleet temporarily aground – the printed version of the magazine – we have attempted to continue to operate in a “business as usual” way without the proper communication and acknowledgment of the true nature of the situation. While we have managed to continue on some levels, the grounding can no longer be ignored.

The tide is turning, however, and we are seeing signs that we can achieve a successful refloat and avoid scuppering our valuable asset.

Nautical terminology aside, we are in the process of ensuring that Maritime Review does not become another maritime media statistic that joins several major titles that have closed in recent years around the globe.

It is time to communicate properly in this regard as well as outline our plan going forward. The hard facts that we cannot ignore are that, as a magazine that relies solely on advertising budget to survive, we have to tweak our business model. The reality is that many companies are struggling and simply do not have the marketing budget that they had in the past – and are looking at other ways to maximise their own spend.

The majority of our content has always been free to the industry, and we are still aiming to continue to offer this service, but we will be developing premium content that will only be available to subscribers.

Our printed magazine remains a central point of our brand, but times have changed. Much of our audience now consumes content digitally. We are competing with citizen journalists who can record and release “news” as it unfolds in front of them. We are competing with social media that costs many companies very little to access and disseminate their own content.

As such it is the printed magazine that has hit the hard ground. Quite simply, we have not been able to print the first issue yet. That’s the reality. That’s the ship aground.

But we are implementing a decisive plan and want our public to be aware of how we intend managing the process going forward.

Issue One – which is currently still in production will be released purely as a digital version. It has been impacted not only by the decrease in marketing budget available, but also now by the situation in the country that has rocked distribution channels. Although severely impacted by these realities, this issue includes some amazing content that we do not simply want to scupper.

As such, we have upgraded our online hosting plan to help us create a richer audience experience of the magazine and allow for detailed engagement analysis. Our new hosting plan allows for the inclusion of video and audio within the online magazine. We are excited about the opportunities that this could offer us and our clients.

In addition, we will pursue all avenues to ensure that we reach the same audience and more. This will serve as the testing ground for our pursuit of whether we convert completely to online delivery in 2022 or not. 

Currently we are still aiming to print the remaining three issues of the year after releasing Issue One digitally, but will curate the online experience making it richer than the printed version as we move forward.

Our content themes for the remainder of the year are as follows:

  • Issue 2: Marine Engineering and the Offshore Sector
  • Issue 3: Ports, Harbours and Related services
  • Issue 4: Safety, Security and Incident response

Our aim needs to be to remain a trusted source of relevant, analytical, in-depth content that is accessible to stakeholders in the maritime industry.

In the meantime, we are also in the process of updating and upgrading the magazine’s official website. The new Buyers Guide is almost ready to be revealed.

We are also working on getting back On The Quayside to talk to the long list of interesting maritime people that we have compiled.

We note too the need for closer collaboration with the industry we serve and acknowledge the irony of some of the previous admonishing we have dealt out towards other stakeholders in this regard.

Just recently we did collaborate to create a song tribute on the International Day of the Seafarers which is now actually being refined by a new band to add percussion, base and viola. We have also taken the lyrics from the song to create merchandise (T-shirts and Shopper Bags) to help fundraise for the GBOBA Bursary Fund.

So is the vessel afloat? Well, not entirely – but it is a long way from being scuppered. Please do get in touch and join our team of salvors to ensure that we keep maritime journalism alive on the continent.

New port of call

After 20 years of operating from the same offices, we are lifting anchors and sailing on to a new port of call. While packing up the boxes (and boxes) of past magazines, interview notes and drawers of catalogued photos – it’s both overwhelming and satisfying to acknowledge what we have accomplished over almost two decades.

They say that a change is as good as a holiday, but I have been inspired by the vast topics we have covered during our time in these offices and aim to keep the engines running and navigate an even more adventurous course ahead. No time for a holiday right now!

While the next two weeks will require some dry docking time, we are still available to engage with the industry and look forward to plotting our course from new premises.

The telephone and postal contact details for Maritime Review will remain unchanged.
Tel: 021 914 1157
PO Box 3842, Durbanville, 7551

I don’t want to celebrate women in maritime

Well, it’s women’s month here in South Africa and the calendar is filling up with webinars addressing women’s issues in the maritime space. Equally my social media feeds are filled with posts from a number of maritime stakeholders celebrating women in the sector.

I applaud the efforts that companies and organisations are making to focus the attention of the predominantly male industry on the successes of, as well as the plight of, their women colleagues. And I am excited to read posts about amazing women standing out and breaking the stereotypes associated with the industry.

But the more women we see holding positions traditionally dominated by men, the less we will need to seek them out or hold them up as something that is an anomaly. Because, you see, I do not want to continue celebrating women in maritime as something weirdly special – I want women to be commonplace and removed as a token target on some score sheet.

And while there are plenty of amazing women in the industry – we are still scrambling to find and promote them because we still know that we need to prove that there is a space for women here. The stereotype is that it is not a “natural fit” and that those women that are in the sector are champions for the future.

Sadly we are not yet in that future so let’s celebrate the achievements of maritime women this month. But let us not do it to be seen to be relevant – let us do it to be real.

The reality is that celebrating the achievements of these women can create a rather one-dimensional conversation. I hope we can do better than simply holding a one dimensional conversation this month and I aim to attend a number of the virtual events that are being hosted to get a better understanding of how this dialogue is evolving.

Events on the calendar to diarise:

  • 06 August @ 15:00: Institute for Security Studies – How can we draw women into the Maritime Industry 
  • 18 August @ 11:00: South African International Maritime Institute – Re-imagining 2020: navigating the equality agenda in an era of COVID-19 (registration link TBC)
  • 21 August @ 10:00: eThekwini Maritime Cluster – Navigating the Role of Women in the Maritime Industry (registration link TBC)
  • 31 August: South African Maritime Safety Institute – TBC

From my perspective, and hopefully in a bid to get real and not simply be relevant on social media, I will be inviting a few women to join me in a new segment on our platforms: On the Quayside where we chat about real issues in an honest way.

You will find links to these conversations on our FaceBook page, via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Appoint of contention

With a number of vacancies currently on its Executive Management Team, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is in a unique position to address its gender balance during the IMO World Maritime Day themed year of “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” by appointing relevant, strong maritime women.

According to SAMSA’s website there are at least three (possibly four since the retirement of Nigel Campbell last year) positions available on its executive team – including the long-empty position of Chief Executive Officer.

With only one woman currently listed on the 11-member team, now is the time for SAMSA to appoint for a more balanced and reflective team.  With two women on its Board, they represent 40 percent of SAMSA’s rather diminished Board of five – a better statistic, but more symptomatic of a Board that has been slowly whittled away, than indicative of a concerted effort to show gender diversity (in my opinion).

Compared to some of the other major African Maritime Authorities, SAMSA still falls somewhat short. The Kenya Maritime Authority includes four women on its 15-person Board of Directors, while Ghana Maritime Authority boasts four out of 13 on its management team.

Nigeria’s Authority (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency – NIMASA) fares the worst, however. With four men on the Executive Management Team there is clearly no space for a woman. The representation on the NIMASA Board is equally as dismal with only one woman on the 11-member team.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has themed this year’s World Maritime Day “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” – a challenge to the industry that has long been male-dominated. Interestingly IMO, itself, may want to heed its own call as Kitack Lim, the current Secretary General, nears the end of his term that began in 2016.

It’s certainly an opportunity for the international body to lead by example and look to appoint its first female Secretary General. It is impossible to believe that there are no women capable of stepping up to this challenge.

Happy International Women’s Day!


[All statistics are based on information available on each Authority’s website and assumes that their listings are accurate and up-to-date.]

Transnet and the Game of Thrones

Yesterday the Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, toured the Port of Durban with the Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) ahead of the official launch of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy. There’s nothing altogether strange about that – but I did feel like I had missed a crucial episode of The Game of Thrones.

Richard Vallihu, who less than a month ago revealed the new TNPA building at the Port of Ngqura, was nowhere to be seen. Instead it was Shulami Qalinge that stepped up to the title of CE at yesterday’s proceedings.

It seems that there has been a succession to the title in the few weeks since the unveiling in the Eastern Cape, but with none of the usual official announcements from the State Owned Entity, the Department of Public Enterprises or even a Cabinet congratulatory notice. Why?

Minister Maswanganyi made it clear last night that the shift to promote women leaders in the maritime space was welcomed by his Department and Qalinge appears to come to the position with good and relevant experience within the logistics sector and Transnet.

TNPA is not usually shy with appointment announcements, but Qalinge seems to have flown in under the radar and ousted Vallihu who’s appointment was certainly officially announced in 2015 when he took over following the sudden departure of Tau Morwe.

Industry sources say that they too are surprised at the seeming secrecy around the appointment and report that news spread to them via the grapevine and not through official Transnet channels.

Indeed Vallihu is still listed in the position on the TNPA website and I am left questioning the validity of my own eye-witness account of yesterday’s proceedings as I scour TNPA as well as government statements for confirmation of the episode I seem to have missed.

Nevertheless, welcome aboard Ms Shulami Qalinge and may your time in the position help steer the Port Authority forward.

Weekly Press Review – 8 May 2017

PetroSA remains under fire this week. According to the press, Energy Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has lashed out at the executives of PetroSA for paying themselves millions of rand in bonuses after suffering a financial loss of R14.5 billion.

Kubayi stated in Parliament that she would not privatise PetroSA, despite its poor showing, but would strengthen its capacity.

The recent downgrades of South Africa’s sovereign rating will not have a major impact on Transnet. According to the press this is due to the fact that only about 19 percent of the state-owned company’s expenses were foreign, said chief executive Siyabonga Gama.

Premier Food and Fishing (PFF) delivered solid growth in earnings for the six months ending in February 2017.

According to the press, the group’s operating profit increased by 12 percent to R18 million, from R16 million.

PFF chief executive, Samir Saban said, “Premier Fishing achieved solid performance and positive growth for the six months to end February as per our expectations.”

Africa is the continent most affected by climate change, and yet, according to the press, funds that are available for green projects, which could accelerate the economy, are simply not being used.

“Capital is available worldwide, but few renewable energy projects are ready for implementation,” says African Development Bank vice-president, power, energy, climate and green growth, Amadou Hott.

“Capital and technological innovations are extremely important and that is what we don’t have enough of in Africa,” added Hott.