SAS Amatola (F145) is the first of four Valour-class frigates for the South African Navy. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - South Africa’s strength in the maritime sector continues to grow as the country has been re-elected onto the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council. 

The Department of Transport described the IMO as the United Nations specialised agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution. 

Last week, the South African Navy underwent maritime economic security training exercises off the coast of Cape Town with naval superpowers Russia and China.

This was described by the South African Navy’s spokesperson Sam Khalusi as an indication of the high esteem in which the country’s Navy was held by global powerhouses. 

Department of Transport Deputy Director of Stakeholder and Intergovernmental Relations Cassius Selala said that with South Africa being surrounded by a vast ocean, the country had fully taken advantage of the “immense potential of this untapped resource”. 

“The oceans have the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the Gross Domestic Product and create just over one million jobs by 2033.

“With the 3 000 km coastline in three oceans on a major strategic shipping route 8 established commercial ports, undoubtedly, South Africa is a maritime country,” said Selala. 

He said that South Africa was positioned to serve the East-West cargo traffic and the booming African offshore oil and gas industry, through marine transportation. 

He said that almost 1.2 million tonnes of liquid fuels move along the South African coast and that while the rapidly expanding offshore oil and gas activities required a supporting fleet of vessels South Africa had no ships on its register and paid over R36 billion maritime transport services to foreign owners and operators. 

“Although South Africa Merchant Ship Register looks unfavourable in comparison to other International Maritime Organisation Members states, BRICS countries continue to enjoy a well balanced Merchant Ship Register with the exception of South Africa.

He said that Brazil had 172 vessels, while Russia boasted 1891 vessels, with India in possession of 534 vessels and China owning 2044 vessels while South Africa had no vessels on the Merchant Ship Register.

“The country has pockets of excellence in providing exceptional maritime services such as consulting, legal services, surveys and bunkering, however, we need to leverage on this history and position our country as the International Maritime and Shipping Services Centre wherein others from around the globe and the broader African continent can procure such services,” Selala said.

He added that the establishment of a national carrier or multiple carriers on the country’s key trades was a feasible strategic pursuit that would add to the New Growth Path aspiration of beneficiation South Africa’s bulk raw material exports.

Political Bureau