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Keynote Address by the Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters, MP, at the send-off function for the first group of South Africans to study Masters and Doctorates in Maritime Affairs at the World Maritime University in Sweden

4 September 2013 –

 

Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters, MP, joined 30 students last night at the send-off function for the first group of South Africans to study Masters and Doctorates in Maritime Affairs at the World Maritime University in Sweden. Please find the speech delivered by the Honorable minister.

Keynote Address by the Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters, MP, at the send-off function for the first group of South Africans to study Masters and Doctorates in Maritime Affairs at the World Maritime University in Sweden

04 September 2013, Willows Country Lodge, Pretoria

Programme Director, Ms Ayanda Mngadi
The Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindi Chikunga
Representatives from both the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Transport
The CEO of the National Skills Fund, Mr. Mvuyisi Macikama
The CEO of SAMSA, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele
The Representatives of the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA)
The Representative of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Prof. Patrick Vrancken
The Via Capital CEO, Mr. Andrew Millard
Distinguished Guests
Most importantly, the Scholarship recipients along with their families
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good Evening

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be part of this significant event, where we bid farewell to the maiden group of South African students who will depart for Sweden, to study Masters and Doctoral studies in Maritime Affairs at the prestigious World Maritime University.

The scholarships provide an opportunity for the further intellectual and scholarly development of the graduates, and resonate very well with Ntate Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s profound words uttered in 1990 that, and I quote:

“If there is one appeal I could make, it is that young people must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible so that they can represent us well in future as future leaders”

An opportunity presented itself and all the scholarship recipients whom we are sending off are privileged to have been awarded this prestigious scholarship in pursuit of receiving the highest possible education, as enjoined by President Mandela.

Maritime education should not just be about giving students technical skills to enable them to fulfill their tasks in their future careers. Maritime education should have a wider scope to also include advanced postgraduate maritime training and research programmes. This will contribute significantly to the development of the maritime industry in the changing world.

Our institutions of higher learning should be seized with the further development of curriculum that will enable easy entry to career paths in the maritime sector, with a focus on maritime law, engineering, transport economics, piloting, seafaring and all related fields.

The ANC government is fully cognizant of the fact that the education of the youth is central for any nation’s development. It continues to shape the future. In our development, maritime and science have been areas of continuity for South Africa during its myriad of political changes. But its role has not been problem-free.

A big challenge for our institutions of higher learning has been to realign their scientific training capacity to serve its black majority, by providing opportunities for black students to enroll in the nation’s best universities.

Another challenge is the brain drain. While political turbulence in other Sub-Saharan African countries has attracted talent to South Africa, job prospects in the developed world have also lured doctors, maritime experts; engineers and other skilled workers to the West.

One of our immediate tasks is to find solutions that speak to the retention of those in possession of scarce skills and competencies, particularly in the maritime sector. We need to look into the maritime sector with the same level of importance and skills investments. It is our obligation to ascertain that South Africa’s maritime sector must ensure that our education and research benefits the poor.

This is the time for South Africa to invest more in maritime and science. It is also an opportune time to invest in key sectors where South Africa is well placed to lead. We must understand that science creates jobs. We cannot remain consumers of maritime, science and technology from other countries. We should be optimistic and invest in maritime and science for ourselves.

In the maritime sector, black people are still largely excluded from ship ownership, operating, chartering, cargo surveying, marine tally and working with port equipment. This puts impetus on all stakeholders to accelerate transformation in the sector. Opportunities should also be unlocked for for women, black women in particular.

Modest targets for ownership by black people and women were set, yet there is limited or no compliance at all. Our Government will regularly review these targets to ensure that there is a noteworthy, gradual increase in previously disadvantaged groups tapping into opportunities in the maritime sector. This should be coupled with investments in up-skilling and training.

Our country might be a leading economy on the African continent with advanced transportation infrastructure, yet it still does not feature among the 35 nations that enjoy the 95 percent monopoly of the world’s merchant vessels sighted moving in and out of its waters.

South Africa is a maritime nation with a 3 000km coastline straddling a major shipping route. Close to 80 percent of trade is by sea, yet the country has a weak maritime industry that does not adequately complement its land and aviation national infrastructure and related services.

Our geopolitical positioning should necessitates that we reappraise the maritime sector and probe the further contribution it could make to job creation and regional trade.

About 60 percent of the country’s bulk commodity exports are transported by sea. A disturbing reality is that most of these are carried by foreign flagged ships, and this is to the detriment of our own economy. The knowledge and experiences you will acquire in Sweden will go a long way in alleviating some of these challenges.

The Shipping Industry, as one pillar of the maritime economy, has a huge role to play in relation to global warming and climate change, as a country we need to develop human capacity that can contribute by carrying out work in the fields of marine environmental and ocean management.

One of the elaborations of international instruments and standards as well as of national legislation is to prevent maritime casualties. You shall recall that in the past, attention was traditionally focused on physical attributes and conditions of the ships.

However, with technological advancement, human element of shipping has become increasingly important, which has resulted to the need for intensive training according to global standards. There has been recognition that more incidents are due to human errors on board or ashore than facilities of the physical infrastructure to human element, hence the significance of investing in high quality maritime education.

The maritime industry is by nature an international industry and the international element of maritime education is therefore crucial. At the World Maritime University, you will acquire sufficient knowledge of international regulations, norms and standards and you will be equipped with international approaches to solving problems.

You will be working with colleagues from other countries and you will learn to look at problems not only from the point of view of South Africa but also from an international perspective. You will be able to participate constructively in the development of solutions to difficult and delicate problems that are acceptable to the international community as a whole.

It is also my conviction that upon the successful completion of your studies, and your return to the country, you will make a very important contribution to the development of the maritime industry. It is also incumbent on you to contribute towards harnessing the much needed wealth and job creation potential of the maritime sector. As you depart, I urge you to be open-minded and be open to enhancing your personal growth.

You will be exposed to rich cultural and social environment and you will interact with people from varying geographical, social and cultural backgrounds. You will meet new people, learn new things and create sustainable networks of mutual benefit. You will develop capacity and analytic skills that drive local economies, support civil society, lead effective governments and make important decisions which affect entire societies.

I strongly believe that an educated population is propeller of growth, knowledge accumulation and application. Such a population is the cornerstone in economic development and is at the core of the country’s competitive advantage in the global economy.

As you depart, think of yourselves as going abroad to acquire knowledge that will transform the maritime sector to a sector that is owned by all South Africans. Bring back ideas of how best we can encourage South Africans to own and appreciate the “Blue Economy”.

In being there, you will not only be part of the Centre for Excellence for maritime post graduate education and research, you will be thinking about how best to apply your knowledge to South Africa so that you can contribute to crafting solutions to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Countries like China, Brazil, India, Russia, Norway, USA, United Kingdom, France, Canada and South Korea are increasing revenue derived from the maritime sector. As you depart, you need to reflect on how we should be growing investments and understanding the economic potential of the maritime sector.

You need to come back with innovative solutions on how best we can build capacity in policy development, coordination, management, research, technology and development.

I will be failing in my duty if I do not thank the Department and the Ministry of Higher Education and Training for investing in maritime skills development.

I also wish to thank Commander Tsietsi and his team for his visionary and transformational leadership. Without your strategic intervention we would not be witnessing what we are witnessing today.

As we celebrate “The Year of the Maritime Sector” let us continue to design innovative programmes that will take this sector where it belongs, that is to all South Africans. Let the size and the impact of the sector be felt by all.

In conclusion;

To the scholarship recipients, this is a huge step that South Africa is taking. You need to lead by example and pave way for younger generation who wants to be part of this important sector. You need to lead by example, fly the South African and African Flag, be Proudly South African and live the Brand South Africa.

Let me echo the words of our struggle icon, Ntate Mandela and say “if we can imagine it, we can do it”. Take this spirit with you and the best you can.

I thank you.

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