Maritime Centre of Excellence for KZN

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The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board has unveiled what it describes as the first-of-its-kind in the SADC region Maritime Centre of Excellence.

The announcement came at a function held at the Sharks Board headquarters in Umhlanga, Durban last Friday (21 September). The KZN Sharks Board, which falls under the auspices of the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism, is world-famous for its pioneering work in protecting bathers from shark attacks and leading in the field of marine research.

In its statement the KZNSB said that because of the province’s maritime riches, which include the ports of Durban and Richards Bay, and the potential promised by the maritime industry in terms of economic growth, it had decided that a Maritime Centre of Excellence (MCE) should be established in order to harness this potential.

Once again reference was made to the lack of ships on the South African register, with claims that this is resulting in huge financial losses, a claim that is based on a supposed figure of what it costs to ship cargo in and out of South African ports on foreign-owned vessels. A figure of R37-billion has been touted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

‘The MCE, therefore, is being established as the Maritime Institute of Sectoral Occupational Excellence (MISOE) to facilitate the development of trade, occupation and SMME’s in the environment of ocean and coastal shipping, inland waterways, aquaculture, port activities, maritime security, boat building, boat repair and associated land-based activities,’ the statement said.

“In recent years the role of the KZN Sharks Board has evolved to respond to changes in the province’s economy,” said Mthokozisi Radebe, CEO of the KZN Sharks Board.

“The Maritime Centre of Excellence has identified programmes and courses that will be delivered to the industry and the public at large through the centre and through partnerships with other institutions. This will allow the centre to remain a leader in maritime capacity building.

“The MISOE will see to the growth of shipping-related services that will improve productivity at ports, cargo handling operations and offer professional support services. It will also become a conduit for regional seafarer supply for the nation and minimise global shortfalls, exponentially increasing the capacity and output of the skills development system. “In addition, the MISOE will be an anchor in managing national and regional Maritime Sector Information (MSI); establishing a Provincial Maritime Institute with a One-Stop Shop Market Differentiation and also establishing a higher education institute with international recognition,” said Radebe.

According to the Sharks Board, the MCE is expected to fully incorporate the youth from across all provinces with the initial focus on KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape. When the MCE is fully developed, it would be rolled out to other landlocked provinces. At its launch, the MCE showcased six trainee skippers who are qualified to pilot small vessels but lacked the necessary seatime experience. Eight students were paraded for their new expertise in boat building and boat repair. Of these 14 previously disadvantaged individuals, seven are females. This has helped in strengthening the transformational agenda that the KZN Sharks Board has embarked upon.

“This Maritime Centre of Excellence will be a game changer in the maritime sector and will ensure that the comparative and competitive advantages that our province boasts are fully-harnessed enabling it to contribute not only to the economy of our country but of the SADC region as a whole,” said Mike Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development & Tourism in KZN.
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