The Ministry of Transport has hailed South Africa's election to the 20-member "Category C" Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as a progressive step towards the full realization of South Africa and the African continent's potential in the maritime sector.
Deputy Minister of Transport Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga is leading SA's delegation to the 29th session of the IMO Assembly in London, United Kingdom.
The delegation consists of senior officials of the Departments of Transport, International Relations and Cooperation and the SA Maritime Safety Authority.
South Africa views its representation on the IMO council as crucial for SADC and Africa's position on global maritime affairs.
Deputy Minister Chikunga believes the voice of African countries on maritime issues - the SADC region in particular - would further be emboldened by South Africa's presence in the influential global council of the United Nations multilateral body.
"We stand to benefit immensely as the African continent from South Africa's election to the IMO council. This is where critical decisions are made with regard to global maritime affairs, ranging from the Oceans Economy, rescue initiatives and safety and security matters at sea," says Deputy Minister Chikunga.
An estimated 80 000 vessels pass through the South African coastline annually of which a large number are laden tankers.
South Africa's salvage capacity and capabilities are recognized globally as being the best due to reliability and recorded successes.
The election comes as South Africa embarks on a new ambitious chapter of unlocking the country's maritime potential through the Blue Oceans' Economy strategy and Operation Phakisa.
"With a coastline totaling 3900 kilometers, we believe there's plenty of untapped potential at sea. Through Operation Phakisa we have identified projects that will ensure that the Oceans' Economy is realised, i.e. Oil and Gas, Marine Aquaculture and Fisheries, Maritime Protection and Governance, Marine Tourism and Marine Transport and Manufacturing," says Deputy Minister Chikunga.
Through Operation Phakisa, South Africa aims to create 1 million jobs and a contribution of about US$17 billion by 2030.
Mr Tiyani Rikhotso
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS