The South African International Maritime Institute

The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) is helping South Africa to steer the right course in the development of the maritime sector as envisaged in Operation Phakisa.

SAIMI is a national, multi-faceted asset, with its headquarters in Port Elizabeth. It is engaging widely with maritime business, education, government and civil society stakeholders across South Africa, and similar institutes in Africa and beyond. Through its coordination and advocacy role, SAIMI is the lead institution facilitating the skills development needed to support growth of the blue economy for South Africa, and aims to play a role in advancing the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS 2050).

Established in 2015, the institute focuses on the development of the specialist skills needed in all the many sea-going, manufacturing, professional and service sectors of the maritime economy which are a beacon of hope for sustainable job creation and the growing of black-owned businesses. These skills are needed to help turn the vision of placing South Africa among the world’s top 10 maritime nations into a reality.

All the natural foundations are in place. South Africa is the African continent’s only country with access to and control over sea waters covering three oceans. While South Africa’s land surface is 1.21 million km², the waters under its control cover some 1.6 million km². A coastline of some 3 924 km stretches from the cold Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Southern Ocean in the south, and then to the warm Indian Ocean in the east.

An application for extending the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone from 200 to 370 kilometres offshore will extend the water surface under South Africa’s control by between 900 000 km² and 1.9 million km². When approved by the United Nations the country will control a total ocean surface of around 3.47 million km² – making it one of the world’s top 10 maritime nations in terms of water surface area.

SAIMI’s main goal is to ensure that the country has the skills and knowledge needed to transform this opportunity into sustainable businesses and jobs:

SAIMI is growing local skills in support of Operation Phakisa through:
• Identifying and closing skills gaps
• Ensuring that the relevant education and training programmes are available
• Promoting careers in the maritime and related sectors

Improving coordination and collaboration in maritime skills development:
• Facilitating linkages and partnerships between the industry, education institutes and government
Generating knowledge and sharing information by:
• Supporting research on skills supply and demand
• Nurturing the development of innovation and technology
• Identifying niche business opportunities
• Helping develop sector development policies

With all its economic potential the maritime sector provides opportunities for empowerment companies and individuals from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to thrive. SAIMI has identified opportunities across all disciplines. They include aquaculture and agro-processing, tourism, manufacturing, engineering and, of course, the jobs on board the ships themselves.

It takes a large crew of support staff on shore to keep a vessel moving. They include clerks, lawyers, ships agents, ships chandlers, engineers, security staff, police officers, conservationists, nutritionists, chefs, surveyors, divers, shipwrights, administrators, welders, fitters and turners, machinists and diesel mechanics.

Opportunities outside of shipping include aquaculture. According to the Operation Phakisa aquaculture work stream South Africa’s aquaculture sector has huge potential due to the increasing global demand for fish which can no longer be met by natural ocean stocks alone. While aquaculture contributes to almost half of the global fish supply, it contributes less than 1% of South Africa’s fish supply. The sector offers significant potential for rural development, especially for marginalised coastal communities. Projects identified by Operation Phakisa are expected to grow the aquaculture sector’s revenue from about half a billion rand, to almost R1.4billion in 2019.

SAIMI supports research into fish farming and the utilisation of other marine resources for food and medicines. Research opportunities cover all aspects of the business of aquaculture. It includes the selection and feeding of fish, shellfish or seaweeds, the processing and marketing of the product, and the management of the business.

Another area in which there is huge potential is in tourism – above and below the water, as well as along the shores. Marine Tourism is defined as the sector of the tourism industry that is based on tourists and visitors taking part in active and passive leisure and holiday pursuits or journeys on (or in) coastal waters, their shorelines and their immediate hinterlands.

Research undertaken for Operation Phakisa has found that there are a number of areas along the coastline with huge unrealised tourism potential. Unlocking that potential requires development – creating opportunities for the training, planning, construction and building industries. SAIMI supports research that will uncover the hidden gems and determine how best to create sustainable tourism operations. There is also research needed into the type of accommodation and experiences tourists want and the marketing of what is on offer.

Tourism sub-sectors prioritised by Operation Phakisa include boat and river cruises, adventures, products for beach breaks, the development of coastal tourism nodes, river cruises, port and harbour tourism, beach-front infrastructure, community-based tourism, youth programmes and the making of documentaries.

National Cadet Programme

There is a global shortage of qualified sea-farers.

In response to the need and opportunities, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) initiated the National Cadet Programme, which is now managed by SAIMI and is aligned with the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy Initiative. The cadet programme offers practical training and training berths enabling students to obtain internationally-recognised STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch-keeping) qualifications and become globally sought-after seafarers.

The cadet programme has added more than 115 seafaring Officers to South Africa’s maritime skills base, with a 90% success rate for employment with international shipping lines.

More than a dozen shipping lines are working in partnership with the National Cadet Programme to offer training berths to South African deck and engine cadets.

The cadet training costs are covered by the National Skills Fund.

About The Author

Issued by Siyathetha Communications on behalf of the South African International Maritime Institute.

SAIMI Project Manager: Odwa Mtati – 082 783 6810
Siyathetha: Ed Richardson: +27 41 582 3750 / 083 656 9757