October 23, 2020

"AFRICA MUST ADAPT SWIFTLY" - OR GET LEFT BEHIND

Africa has for some time been perceived as the slumbering giant - a continent on the cusp of greatness and success, which remains there to be seized.

With the tsunami effect of the impact of Covid-19 on the world economy in 2020, all continents - whether they are ready or not - have been propelled into the future.

The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI). is based in South Africa at the Nelson Mandela University but serves the African continent and beyond with a mandate of promoting skills development, education, training and research that supports growth of the blue economy. SAI M l's vision is to attain a highly skilled, knowledge-intensive and sustainable oceans sector.

In line with the African Union's African Integrated Maritime Strategy, SAIMI believes that Africa deserves to derive maximum social and economic benefit - and inherent opportunities for human development - from its maritime resources. A continental blue economy has the potential to provide sustainable opportunities for people living in Africa to achieve food security, robust livelihoods and business growth, in harmony with the environment.

As a continent, we need to interrogate what the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would mean for the potential of the maritime sector - to actively start collaboration amongst countries. Intra­ African trade should not only include goods and services, but encompass greater collaboration of skills development, research and innovation. We need to integrate our policies to support teaching and learning, with a specific focus on convergence and 41R.

Our systems of delivery have changed radically - we have been propelled into the future without being ready. We need to adapt to these changes with agility, since technology has forced us to jump into the unknown in most economic sectors.

A blended learning approach for skills development has become key. We need to be ready for automated vessels. We should use drones and other technology to fight off challenges such as drought, food security caused by dwindling fish stock, and maritime security threats.

Africa will remain behind if our policies are not integrated with the latest innovations and global technology trends. Our efforts as fellow Africans should be deliberate and collaborative - to achieve the harmonious development of our continent.

To this end, SAIMI partners with like-minded organisations across the continent. One such potential partner is Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) Africa, based in Kenya, which focusses on capacity building for climate mitigation in the maritime shipping industry to promote the uptake of low carbon technologies and energy efficient practices in the maritime and shipping industry.

SAIMI also has working relationships with the International Ocean Institute, head-office in Malta (Regional Office based in Cape Town) and the World Maritime University, in Sweden. The University has recently completed a study, which was commissioned by SAIMI, to determine the state of maritime education and training in Africa. Ensuring sustainable economic growth in the African maritime sector starts with matching the skills and educational outcomes of Africans, with globally competitive industry needs.

Oceans know no borders, and so should Africa-wide strategies that focus on securing cooperation for the advancement of the continent's economy and its people.


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