DURBAN, South Africa – South Africa’s maritime industry has entered an exciting phase with today’s announcement that the government was in the market to acquire two tall ships.
The CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, said negotiations with relevant stakeholders were already underway.
Mokhele said the ships would be used for training and other maritime development initiatives.
The announcement was made at a special Russia/South Africa cultural event which was organised by SAMSA ahead of the BRICS summit which starts in Durban tomorrow.
The pre-Brics activities between the two countries were launched on Saturday with a special ceremony to welcome the Russian tall ship, STS Pallada, to the Durban port.
The STS Pallada is a training vessel owned by the Far Eastern State Technical Fisheries University. South Africa’s training vessel, the SA Agulhas which is commandeered by SAMSA, is currently moored next to it.
Mokhele yesterday emphasized how important it was for the two countries to strengthen their relations for the purposes of maritime development and encouraged cadets from the vessels to become friends, share experiences and learn from each other.
Russia and South Africa have been close allies since the 1980’s when it was a haven for South Africa’s political exiles and many of the country’s prominent role players also completed their studies there.
Yesterday Prof Kim Georgii, from the Russian University of Fisheries thanked SAMSA and the South African government for the hospitality shown to their crew.
Amidst the traditional songs and dances on display, he also presented Mokhele with a special Russian bread as a symbol of friendship and strengthened relations between the two countries.
They then broke salt bread together which is a Russian welcome greeting ceremony. When important, respected, or admired guests arrive, they are presented with a loaf of bread placed on a rushnik (embroidered towel) A salt holder or a salt cellar is placed on top of the bread loaf or secured in a hole on the top of the loaf.
Since their first engagement on Saturday, SAMSA and the Russian University have already agreed that a Russian South African cadet exchange programme be formulated.
On Sunday it also emerged that a new integrated maritime policy for South Africa would be on the table by July.
The announcement was made at a maritime trade forum organised by SAMSA. The forum gave a high level government delegation as well as industry experts and stakeholders the opportunity to examine the current challenges it faced in South Africa.
From a maritime perspective the 5th BRICS summit is crucial for the growth of South Africa’s industry as it hopes to learn from the rest of the group’s members; Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa does not own any shipping vessels and at least R160 billion for shipping services is paid to foreign owners and operators every year. In contrast Brazil, Russia, India and China have in recent years become regional maritime powers with vast maritime interests and capabilities in sea trade, commerce and naval influence. Brazil operated an estimated fleet of 172 merchant vessels, Russia 1891 vessels, India 534 and China had 2044 merchant ships.