Weekly Press Review – 29 May 2017

A gas explosion led police to a house in Mowbray this week resulting in the seizure of R2.8 million worth of illegal abalone.

According to the press, police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said that the seizure in Montclaire Road in Mowbray had dealt a blow to illegal trade in marine resources.

Neighbours alerted the police to the explosion.

“Police conducted an investigation on the scene and found plastic containers and buckets containing abalone. Protecting our marine resources remains the core of the mandate of the SAPS,” said Rwexana.

The three men arrested at the scene will appear in the Magistrate’s court once they are officially charged.

The blue economy has made headlines once again this week. According to Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, head of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), South Africa’s blue (ocean) economy is an area of focus for economic growth and development.

Bohler-Muller, who recently attended the 3rd workshop of the Blue Economy Core Group in Mauritius, said that people were starting to talk about the blue economy and that the government was developing a strategy around it, stemming from Operation Phakisa.

Under Operation Phakisa, Oceans Economy, the government aims to grow the ocean economy’s contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic profit to between R129 billion and R177 billion by 2033.

Container shipping company, Maersk, says that the container sector is seeing an uptick in intra-Africa trade due to the fall of most long-standing internal trade barriers.

According to the press, David Williams, chief executive of Maersk Line Africa, said that the most recent progression in this regard was the increasing implementation of the one stop border post concept across the continent.

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Access denied: flirting with the maritime economy?

There’s a general movement that is gaining traction in the maritime sectors that aims to boost the industry’s contribution to job creation and the GDP. The Blue Economy is on everyone’s lips and national, regional, continental and even international strategies are being developed to see our oceans contribute meaningfully to our human desire to produce and prosper.

With so much attention it should, therefore, not be surprising to see a whole new set of eyes flirting with the possibility of developing a long term relationship with the ocean sector. It’s time to give them a dance ticket and allow them onto the dance floor.

At the South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC) organised some three years ago by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), there were people from every sector and plenty who saw themselves as merely standing on the side line hoping for an opportunity to show their moves.

Paul Maclons, Managing Director of Smit Amandla Marine, was unequivocal in his statement during one of the panel discussions at the conference: that the solution for a full and inclusive dance floor was not in promoting the practice of cutting in on existing dancers – but rather on extending the party and mixing it up from the DJ’s box. Well, okay Paul did not mention anything about dancing or DJ’s, but his message was clear – we need to expand the industry to accommodate newcomers.

The truth is though that the industry is expanding and there are more opportunities, but equally the economic reality of a capital-intensive international industry is seeing more consolidation and joint ventures as existing companies seek relationships with other established partners that can offer them the opportunity to extend their own dance cards.

Does that mean that there is no opportunity for newcomers? Are they destined always to be wallflowers?

The quick answer to that has to be NO! There are some newcomers to the industry aiming to show off their signature moves on the dance floor. Our job is not to stop mid beat and point or jeer. Our job is to make sure that there is space for them even if their rhythm is a little different to ours. Our job is to learn a little from the new beat.

This year’s SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards aims to recognise the new dancers on our floor. If you’ve recently launched or know of a company that has launched into our space – please take the time to nominate. It takes courage to start something in any industry and especially into one so entrusted to the “old guard”.

http://www.maritimeawards.co.za  

 

Missing out on a celebration

Not much hype seems to have been generated around the official start of the African Maritime Decade which is due to kick off tomorrow. The only nod in this direction seems to be happening at the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa where a “two-day” meeting got underway today.

Today’s schedule in Ethiopia was to include a meeting of the AU Strategic Task Force on the 2050 AIM-Strategy. What should have been an ideal platform to review and debate the strategy, however, was cancelled at the beginning of July.

The schedule for the day therefore now only starts at 5pm and includes a panel discussion followed by an official dinner at 7:30pm.

Tomorrow will see the official launch of the Decade of Africa Seas and Oceans and the Celebration of the African Day of Seas and Oceans – essentially wrapping up an event that has sought to bring together a wide variety of stakeholders from across the continent by 1:30 pm tomorrow.

On a country-by-country basis nothing seems to be planned.

New entrants should be accommodated in blue economy

Respondents to our Operation Phakisa survey were unanimous in their view that the maritime industry has the capacity to cater for new entrants with 71 percent deeming it “realistic” and a further 29 percent seeing it as “very realistic”.  Just under 30 percent, however, believe that it is unrealistic to expect the maritime industry to create one million jobs and for the blue economy to reach R1.7 billion by 2033.

The South African presidency is due to announce the outcome of deliberations held under the auspices of the Ocean Labs in Durban this week at an open day. Targets and activities committed to by stakeholders will be made public and it will be interesting to see if expectations can be met.

Most of our survey respondents, who mostly represent industry stalwarts of ten or more years, agree that involvement from government is “very important” (71 percent), but view government catalysts during their tenure to be “unsatisfactory” (71 percent).

We are still accepting responses to the survey <CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE> and will bring you news from Durban and the Phakisa Open Day in the next issue of Maritime Review Africa.

 

Riding the wave of the blue economy

Since I started reporting on the maritime sector in the mid 1990’s, the industry has been complaining about the lack of recognition it receives from government. It has been one of the biggest and most constant gripes. At the beginning of the year when the African Union announced the maritime decade, it was clear that the landlocked mindset of the continent was shifting – and the South African government’s July launch of Operation Phakisa affirms that strategic thinking is taking place to develop the “blue economy”.

With the government’s emphasis on four distinct areas there are, of course, sectors of the maritime industry currently not receiving the same level of attention. A conversation with a stakeholder, however, revealed that the full spectrum of opportunities within the blue economy is being considered. He said that more details will be announced during the course of the coming months and that a document would be released highlighting the recommendations made by industry experts at the conclusion of the Ocean Lab sessions held in Durban.

With a probable second South African Maritime Industry Conference hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority due to be called before the end of the year, it seems likely that Operation Phakisa will take centre stage. One is not sure, however, to what extent the outcomes of the Ocean Labs will be set in stone and to what extent they will be flexible enough to accommodate further interrogation by other stakeholders omitted from the initial deliberations.

I am choosing to remain cautiously optimistic, but am not so naive as to believe that the naming of an important sounding strategy within government will necessarily provide the panacea that the industry is waiting for. Despite adopting a “quick fix” strategy from Malaysia to churn out a blue economic policy in less than six weeks, the real work will require a lot more staying power and even some unpopular decisions.

President Jacob Zuma says that he will be monitoring the progress on an ongoing basis. Well, so will I and I hope to be able to provide updates via this blog in the future.

We also welcome any feedback from industry in this regard. Please drop me an email with your thoughts or complete the survey on Operation Phakisa by clicking here.

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