With African economies bucking the trend and showing 7% growth, the continent is looking to become a significant resource of seafarers. The initiative comes at a time of concern in the industry for recruitment and retention.
The South African government has taken the initiative in training seafarers and are recruiting students from Africa for its cadet schools in Durban and Cape Town. The drive to supply seafarers for merchant fleets is fueled by South Africa’s understanding of its strategic maritime significance and its commitment to tackle unemployment.
Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Transport, addressed an audience of shipping and crewing companies, ICMA welfare providers (including Reverends Canon Ken Peters and Hennie la Grange) and ICSW Executive Director, Roger Harris.
The reception was held on board the icebreaker vessel Agulhas 1 moored in The Pool of London. Agulhas 1, South Africa’s trusted transporter of scientists to Antarctica, has recently been gifted to cadet schools and is reinventing itself as a training facility and trading platform. It is set to transport the Trans Antarctic Winter Traverse to the southernmost continent.
Crewing the vessel currently is a team of enthusiastic young cadets from South Africa, Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire.
“…Important is the role our country is playing in leading the development of an integrated African maritime strategy. …The voyage gives us an opportunity to showcase South Africa’s potential as a seafaring nation,,” said Minister Chikunga.
ICMA is well placed to respond to the recruitment of African seafarers. The Christian Seaman’s Organisation’s Cape Town based port chaplain, Johan Smith, has developed training modules for cadets focused on seafarers’ wellness in collaboration with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He is delivering a pilot of the course supported by ITF Seafarers Trust. The course helps cadets to cope with on board isolation by strengthening their resilience to the challenges of working in dangerous conditions and multicultural environments. The course teaches coping skills, informs on welfare services available to seafarers and addresses the need for wholeness and spiritual support.