Opening address by Minister of Transport Mr Sibusiso Ndebele at the African Union (AU) Ministers responsible for Maritime Transport, Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC
15 Oct 2009
AU Commissioner Ms Elham Ibrahim
African Union Ministers of Transport
AU Deputy Ministers of Transport
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
eThekwini Executive Mayor Obed Mlaba
All Heads of Department and permanent secretaries
Experts in Maritime Transport
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
As we gather here in Durban today there are two clear challenges that face the African Maritime transport sector. The first issue is safety and security and the other is the economic development of the maritime sector.
Safety and security
As African Ministers we are making significant strides in a very important area, that of road safety. In South Africa we have developed one of the most effective public road safety campaigns yet we are still faced with worryingly high numbers of deaths on our roads.
We were together with some Ministers of Transport in Africa at the Make Africa Safe Conference in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in July this year. The Dar es Salaam conference was also attended by hundreds of delegates from different parts of the world. At its conclusion it called for a “Decade of action for road safety in Africa.”
Following the Dar es Salaam conference nations of the world will again gather in Moscow, Russia at the first Global United Nations Ministerial Conference on Road Safety from 19 to 20 November this year.
In Moscow road safety will be elevated to the attention of the world. After Moscow the issue of road safety will cease to be a matter that only concerns individual nations. After Moscow the issue of road safety will sit squarely on the global agenda.
The second main challenge we face is safety and security in our skies. Growth of intra and inter-African and Europe to Africa travel has come with its own challenges. Illegal activities have increased including the trafficking of drugs and other contraband goods. At the back of our minds we also cannot be certain that our aviation does not face the threats of attacks by those who seek to destabilise our progress.
In response to this reality we have made interventions as individual countries and together through the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC). It is only through a global response that we can truly hope to deal decisively with these challenges. Yet these challenges remain.
In the maritime transport sector we face similar issues of safety and security. We are challenged by the trafficking of drugs, contraband goods and humans.
Jean-Michel Loubotin, the executive director of Interpol issued a statement on Wednesday on piracy and I quote: “Pirates operating off Somalia are being controlled by crime syndicates including foreigners lured by the multi-million-dollar ransoms. The pirates have also acquired sophisticated weapons and tracking devices allowing them to extend their reach. This is organised crime,” he said.
“The presence of an international armada to police the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, is not enough to solve the problem. The problem has policing, social and economic dimensions,” said Loubotin further.
It is clear therefore that the problems we are facing are no longer problems which face us as individual nations. We face these challenges as nation states, together. We will therefore only resolve these challenges of safety and security as a combined force acting in concert, as combined nations of the world.
All these issues of safety and security call upon us to develop co-ordinated and integrated and continent-wide transport safety programmes cutting across all modes.
Economic growth and development
Intermodal transport system development calls on new investment by states and the private sector. There can be no economic growth unless there is continued investment in this sector, yet we will not attract these investments unless our industries are safe.
As Africans we must take the firm view that we cannot talk maritime security outside of economic development and growth of the sector. The maritime transport sector in Africa is a giant that is waking up.
African maritime transport has the capacity to grow our economies and create millions of jobs. The maritime transport sector can create opportunities for women and also has the capacity to absorb young people and unemployed graduates into productive work.
Cabotage as a means of growing African maritime
One of the quickest ways in which we can grow our economies is through the implementation of cabotage as an instrument for the development of the maritime transport sector. Cabotage is defined as trade transit of a vessel along the coast from one port to another within the territorial limits of a single nation.
Cabotage is the way to go because it will unlock the integration of trade in African regions and the continent at large. Cabotage will create a foundation for the development of African owned shipping liners.
Over the past three days our experts gathered to review and propose to us a plan of action. There are some critical areas of that plan which I would like to highlight. These are to:
* develop Africa’s capacity in area of maritime and port administration
* promote integration of women in maritime
* ensure security of ships and ports
* prevent illegal dumping of waste
* establish and develop regional coast guard networks
* improve port management and operations
* facilitate access to and from sea and freedom of transit for land locked and island states
* facilitate creation of African ship registries
* implementation of the Charter.
All of us including the experts agree that we need to move toward with implementation. It will require of us as Ministers and the AU to build institutional capacity, mobilise resources and put in place monitoring systems to ensure speedy implementation of the plan.
Year of the seafarer
Training and capacity building is one of the deliverables of the plan of action. In this regard the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has declared 2010 the Year of the seafarer. This is an opportunity for Africa to increase the number of seafarers and thereby prepare our people for entry into the maritime transport sector in Africa and the world.
By declaring 2010 the year of the seafarer the IMO has provided us the opportunity to grow this important part of the maritime sector and to get ready to move the maritime sector into the driver of economic growth.
Internationally the IMO reports that there is a chronic shortage of 34000 officers and 200 000 non officers. South Africa is targeting to train 1200 officers a year and about 7000 non-officers.
South Africa is also planning to form at least one dedicated maritime university in one of the coastal provinces.
Addis Ababa 1993
The conference of African Ministers of Maritime Transport which was held in Addis Ababa in 1993 reiterated the need for cooperation amongst African maritime states. This cooperation is needed to find appropriate solutions to the problems impeding the development of the maritime transport sector and challenges brought about by the changes in the sector.
The Addis Ababa Conference adopted an African Charter on Maritime Transport to provide a framework for cooperation amongst African States and between African and non-African countries.
The First Ministers Conference in Abuja reviewed the implementation process for the 1993 Addis Ababa declaration and plan of action on maritime transport in Africa.
The main objective of this Second African Union Conference of Ministers responsible for Maritime Transport here in Durban is to finalise the process of ratification for the African Maritime Charter as last tabled in Abuja.
This conference must map a solid and defined place for the maritime sector in Africa and propel Africa towards our rightful place in the world economy. This conference must emerge with an Africa that speaks with one voice, a strong and very clear voice.
Issued by: Department of Transport
15 October 2009
Issued by: Department of Transport
15 Oct 2009
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