African Renaissance Conference  24- 26 May 2018






    The more involved I am in the sector, the more I concur that the maritime sector is the lifeblood of any country and indeed any region. It is true that nations that trade prosper and the more they trade the richer they get.


    Apart from trade routes, the sea provides food, commodities, income from tourism and even moderate climate conditions. However, these very attributes result in exploitation and illegal activities in the
    absence of proper controls. These in turn have negative consequences and contribute to the high cost of conducting business in the region if no measures are put in place. It is a fact that Africa is an island continent based on the geographical definition of what an Island is. Of the fifty four countries on the continent, thirty nine are either littoral states or islands; therefore it is expected that the continent is:

    • Acutely aware of the impact of the maritime domain;
    •  Aware of the importance of maritime
    trade to the economies of African states; and
    • Aware that 91% of continental trade by volume is seaborne and therefore the maritime sector has the potential to significantly contribute to the continent’s economic and employment prospects. 
     These are the current realities of Africa’s import and exports, which are further exacerbated by the total inadequacy of the land infrastructure. The poor state of Africa’s road system, in spite of efforts to improve them, means that coastal trade is going to grow – supplementing the expected growth of international trade.

    The role of every African Coastal state is to ensure the protection of the maritime sector, while ensuring that strategies and policies are in place for nations, regions and the continent to compete in international
    maritime trade.

    Each nation has the responsibility to promote new awareness and appreciation of the critical importance of the maritime domain and create an alternative vision where each nation, region and the continent utilises its opportunities to capitalise on its potential. Maritime security, maritime industry development
    and maritime human capacity development strategies form part of the foundation for the growth of the sector and economic development. These must lead to broader strategies to unlock the economic potential of maritime nations, regions and the continent.

    At the continental level and through  the African Union’s Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 (AIM 2050), which was recently endorsed by African Heads of State, there is a realisation of how  important the maritime environment is for the continent. For the strategy to succeed, it must be implemented nationally, regionally and continentally. There is also a realisation of the need to develop strategies to enhance maritime capabilities. There is a need to entrench realisation and recognition that all matters
    related to maritime policies and strategies must be developed in a coherent manner if the continent is to reap rewards. A coordinated, multi-sectoral approach that is endorsed by all stakeholders is the way to
    go. This requires reinforced cooperation and effective coordination of all maritime related policies at different decision making levels. The finalisation of AIMS 2050 is the realisation that the continent has begun to take the lead in controlling its own destiny. National, regional, continental and international
    organisations need to establish and improve existing mechanisms for maritime governance.

    Non-alignment or duplication of activities leads to inefficient use of resources. Areas such as fishing and tourism are examples of interdependent activities where decisions in one discipline will have impact on the others, and therefore needs to be carefully managed to derive optimal benefits. The responsibilities and activities included under the broad concept of maritime transport must be aligned with all the other role players like sea fisheries, trade and industry, policy and security services, customs, arts and culture. In realising this there is a need to accept that initiatives are launched with other regions to successfully manage the maritime affairs of the continent in the interest of economic prosperity for its people.
    More succinctly, there is a need for a holistic approach that will provide a coherent policy framework and contribute to the optimal development of all maritime related activities in a sustainable manner.

    There is a need for more and better trained coastal security forces. The establishment of an appropriate and maritime data and information infrastructure is also of outmost importance. The maritime strategy must be embedded in the national, regional and economic development strategies. Human resources development is a fundamental component of any strategy. Improved transport networks on  land, sea and air are integral to any country, region and continental development and to their participation in the global economy. 

    The continent has a wealth of natural resources, but the weaknesses in infrastructure reduce the continent’s competitive advantage. 

    Tourism has long been advocated as the foundation for continental economies. The continent is blessed with an abundance of draw cards and diversity; the industry has proven to be an economic driver. However, there must be a realisation that the bulk of visitors are from successful economies and
    enjoy higher standards of living and expect that these standards be maintained at their tourist destinations. This would include good port facilities, efficiency of personnel and low crime rates.


    The fishing sector is divided into two sectors – capture fisheries where fish are caught and aquaculture where fish are farmed or raised. Fish farming is the most logical and practical solution to meet global demand for fish and not the traditional fishing grounds. In addition, the focus must be toward moving to more value added utilisation of the fishing sector. This requires further investment in research and technologies so that as a continent we can begin to progress whilst at the same time ensuring value added. The upstream and downstream oil and gas industry in Africa is a key component in a strategic assessment of the continent. All these major companies should be considered as important stakeholders in any discussions separate from the oil producing countries. Strategies must be
    put in place on how best we take advantage of the upstream and downstream oil and gas sector.

    There is a need to strengthen capacity for ship repairs to cater for small and large ships. Ship building must be improved. There must be investment in infrastructure such as dry docks, manufacturing capacity, dependable supplies of materials for the work, sufficient power and training facilities where skills can be generated. It is also vital for Africa to acquire more commercial vessels and train the crews to run them. It will be more beneficial to invest in ship repair and ship maintenance facilities. Those facilities must be maintained by skilled people.


    Security forces to support the sector must be governed according to the principles of democratic control. There is no need to discourage private security, but we need to think about how best we take the need
    to protect our seas whilst creating jobs for the youth in our region who are mainly affected by lack of job opportunities and are victims of unemployment whilst still fit and capable to work.

    Collaboration with international institutions must be accepted as Africa is an integral part of the global maritime environment and must make every effort to remain there. Moving forward the call for undertaking the audit of the continent’s current needs is supported as a base for developing
    a comphrehensive action plan. A review must be conducted of existing maritime resources or maritime assets. A comparison must be made to determine the shortfall and an assessment of the impact of this on the shortfall.

    Issues to be addressed must include maritime legislation and regulations, naval and coastal police forces, sharing of information and intelligence and integrating maritime development issues into the broader economic development imperatives. Responsible maritime spatial planning is critical to the sustainable development of the maritime sector. Maritime security must include the protection of maritime commerce and infrastructure to ensure commercial interface.

    Most importantly, people, training and systems are required, as any strategy is only as good as the people who are tasked to implementing it. Human resources development is a fundamental component
    of any maritime strategy. This includes training of personnel in their specific tasks and how best to integrate their roles with personnel from commerce. Systems integration and technological upgrades
    are also required. Public awareness of the inherent value of maritime resources is fundamental to success and understanding the impact of human activities on maritime systems should lay the foundation for responsible utilisation of resources. Credible information is essential to the forming of opinions therefore marine science, technology and scientific research is required to educate the students and the general public on the sustainable development of the sector. The perspective

    on oceans must also be reflected in
    inland waterways.