Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 13, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • US pre-positioning ship USNS Fisher calls at Durban

  • SA Navy to buy fifth frigate

  • Tragedy in Mozambique Channel as ferry capsizes

  • Nigerian oil workers say they will strike

  • Namibia and Zambia look to streamline trade along Trans-Caprivi Corridor

  • World Bank says Africa is the site of intense reforms to business regulations

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    US pre-positioning ship USNS Fisher calls at Durban

    One of the Bob Hope class US Navy Ships of the Military Sealift Command, USNS Fisher slipped into Durban yesterday morning to load bunkers and supplies.

    It’s been a while since the last pre-positioning ship called at Durban. Cape Town has had the most of recent visits although these have also been scarce in recent weeks. The shortage of bunkers at Cape Town is probably the reason why this ship has come to Durban despite a shortage in Durban as well.

    USNS Fisher (T-AKR 301) is a large ship by any measure, having a LOA of 298.5m and a beam of 32.3m. She displaces 62,096 tons fully loaded and her propulsion comes from four diesel engines driving two shafts and producing 65,160 bhp to give a top speed of 24.9 knots.

    Apart from her considerable cargo space USNS Fisher can carry 300 troops. The seven ships in this class, known as the Bob Hope class from the lead ship USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300), are similar to the Watson class but are powered by diesels rather than gas turbines as with the Watson class.

    USNS Fisher was built in 1999.

    SA Navy to buy fifth frigate

    According to a report in Business Day South Africa is ready to take up an option for a fifth Meko class A200 frigate from the German frigate consortium that built four other ships for the South African Navy.

    The four ships, SAS Amatola, SAS Isandlwana, SAS Spioenkop and SAS Mendi have all been delivered although only the first two have so far been handed over by the builders and commissioned into the navy.

    The report comes as something of a surprise as there has been no indication in public that the navy was keen to go for the extra ship. In fact there has been serious talk of acquiring a range of ships for offshore patrols and also support type vessels along the lines of a helicopter carrier that would be suitable for sea-land support work.

    According to the Business Day the fifth ship would cost considerably more than the R1.2 Billion paid for each of the first four frigates. It suggests a fifth ship would now cost in the region of R2 Bn.

    The report also stated that the chief of the navy, Rear Admiral Johannes Mudimu had confirmed the intention of buying the extra ship. He said the original contract had been for five ships but only four were taken because of budget constraints.

    The navy is awaiting delivery next year of four AgustaWestland Super Lynx helicopters which will serve on board the frigates – a fifth is now expected to be added to the order.

    Tragedy in Mozambique Channel as ferry capsizes

    Nearly half the passengers on board the ferry Al Mubarak which was on a crossing between Northern Madagascar and the island of Mayotte in the Comoros, are feared to have drowned after the ferry capsized at the weekend.

    There were a total of 76 passengers on board the ferry when it set out on Saturday for Mayotte. It is not known why the ferry capsized but overloading is suspected. At first it was feared that all had been lost until a lifeboat with 23 people on board was sighted and those on board rescued. On Monday a second lifeboat with 19 on board was found. Earlier another passenger, still wearing his lifejacket was found stranded on a beach in Mayotte. He claimed to have been adrift for 48 hours before washing ashore.

    The search for the others still missing is continuing.

    Nigerian oil workers say they will strike

    According to Nigerian news reports oil workers in the Delta were due to begin striking at midnight last night (Tuesday), despite efforts by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to forestall the action.

    The strike, which is expected to cripple Nigeria’s oil production even further, which has already seen a considerable loss owing to highjackings and sabotage and leading to the shutdown of certain operations, is expected to be in force for three days.

    According to two trade unions involved, the strike has been called in protest at uncontrolled violence affecting the safety of oil workers in the Niger Delta. While a number of expatriates have been seized and held for ransom, and for whom it is thought that ransoms have been paid leading to their safe return, Nigerian workers have no such support and several have died in shoot-outs and other acts of violence.

    A Nigerian minister is quoted in the local press as saying that the losses being suffered by Nigeria as a result on the unrest have cost the country as much as 872,000 barrels per day and not the official estimates of around 600,000 b/pd.

    Namibia and Zambia look to streamline trade along Trans-Caprivi Corridor

    Delegates to a regional trade seminar on the Trans-Caprivi Corridor have been told of international trade being hampered by the high cost of transport, poor infrastructure and inadequate security.

    The article in Windhoek’s Namibian newspaper reports also on a shortage of storage capacity and delays at border posts which have hindered efficient trade and prevented Africa from fully exploiting international trade as a means of improving the continent’s development status.

    The seminar in Walvis Bay was attended by delegates from Namibian and Zambian ports, road and border authorities.

    The report said that the delegates committed themselves to improving the competitiveness of the corridor, which UNCTAD has identified as a model corridor in Africa.

    Among the issues requiring attention and involving cross-border transport and immigration, are the harmonization of customs documentation and the development of a one-stop border post between Namibia and Zambia. Other issues receiving attention included harmonizing axle load limits and streamlining shipping rates to Walvis Bay with the rest of the region.

    - source The Namibian

    World Bank says Africa is the site of intense reforms to business regulations

    by Elizabeth Kelleher
    Washington File Staff Writer

    Washington – Africa is the site of intense reforms to business regulations, according to an annual World Bank report ranking business climates in 175 countries.

    In the previous two years’ rankings, the region lagged behind all others in the pace of reforming unwieldy regulations. Yet the bank's Doing Business 2007 report released 5 September says Africa now ranks third among regions, behind only Eastern Europe-Central Asia and the wealthy Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.

    Two-thirds of African countries made at least one important regulatory reform to spur economic growth, according to the report.

    Tanzania, which introduced electronic-data interchange and risk-based inspections at customs, reduced the time it takes to clear imports by nearly two weeks. Cote d’Ivoire reduced the time it takes to transfer property to 32 days from more than a year. Burkina Faso cut the number of procedures for starting a business by one-third. Madagascar reduced the minimum capital for start-ups from 10 million francs to 2 million francs.

    “I don’t fully understand it,” said Simeon Djankov, the report’s main author, referring to advances made by those and other African countries. But he attributed the phenomenon, at least in part, to a push by major donors in the United States and United Kingdom to get African countries to create jobs and generate economic growth on their own.

    For example, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Account requires recipients to meet certain standards, including engagement of the private sector in projects, to qualify for this category of foreign aid. The U.S. Agency for International Development increasingly works with aid recipients on improving business climate.

    There was little change among those countries that had the highest rankings in Doing Business 2006. The top three positions in terms of the ease of doing business continued to be held by Singapore, New Zealand and the United States.

    There was much more movement in the lower tiers of the list. Within a year, Georgia climbed from the 112th to the 37th position. Mexico jumped from the 62nd to the 43rd and is credited with one of the boldest reforms -- increasing investor protections in its new securities law.

    China, Number 93 a year ago, moved up 15 places. Like Georgia, Mexico, Tanzania and Ghana, China is among the World Bank’s “top 10 reformers.” Its government has sped up the business-starting process, increased investor protections, reduced red tape in trade, and established a credit-information registry for consumer loans that provides credit histories of 340 million citizens, according to the report.

    A separate report on foreign direct investment, released by Columbia University and The Economist publishing group, predicts that until 2010 China will be the top emerging market for business investment inflows, but Africa will not receive much investment any time soon.

    Karl Sauvant, director of the Columbia Program on International Investment, which released the investment report, said China will attract $ 87 billion from U.S. businesses alone in 2006, while sub-Saharan Africa, with 10 percent of the world’s population, gets less than 1 percent of total foreign direct investment flows.

    According to Sauvant, to achieve economic growth a country must do more than reform business regulations. It also must compete to attract investment and provide quality infrastructure and a skilled work force, he said.

    The World Bank’s Djankov said the Doing Business 2007 report focuses only on what governments can do in a few years at a cost of millions of dollars, not hundreds of millions. The most popular reform this year has been easing regulations on starting a business -- something accomplished by 43 countries. “Any government can do this, and any government can do it now,” Djankov said.

    Doing Business 2007 is available on the World Bank Web site. World Investment Prospects is available on the Columbia University Web site.

    (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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