Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 29, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Minister denies submarine crew shortage

  • South Africa and Iran meet to explore maritime interests

  • Inflation at 10.4 percent as food, fuel prices continue to climb

  • Dubai Maritime City to play key role in Arab maritime sector

  • AP Moller shipyard warns of possible layoffs

  • Infrastructure investment can improve Africa's growth - Mbeki

  • Pic of the day – GRAND ELENA


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    Minister denies submarine crew shortage

    Two South African submarines at sea together in this picture, taken last week in False Bay on the arrival of the submarine S103 ‘Queen Modjadji 1’. Forming an escort in honour of the latest vessel to enter service with the South African Navy are ships of the fleet, including frigates and a combat support vessel. In view of the minister’s comments (see below) it might be pointed out that for the past three months or more the South African Navy has taken part virtually non-stop in one naval exercise after another with ships from other navies, including the United States, Germany, India, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and France. In most of these exercises a considerable number of SAN ships have remained at sea together at the same time. Picture by Clinton Wyness

    Cape Town, 27 May 2008 – South Africa’s Minister of Defence Mosiuoa Lekota has refuted claims in the media and elsewhere that the navy does not have sufficient trained personnel to man its ships, in particular the submarines.

    Lekota was speaking to journalists ahead of his budget vote debate in parliament and only days after the arrival of the navy’s third Type 209 submarine, SAS Queen Modjadji 1, which arrived in Simon’s Town on her delivery voyage last week.

    Speaking with some feeling he asked how it was possible for all three submarines to be at sea at the same time if it was true that the navy had crew for only one boat. He called the reports fallacious and said he didn’t know where they stemmed from.

    According to Lekota all three submarines are fully commissioned and functioning.

    The minister also referred to what he said was a changing scenario for South Africa’s military, which needed to move from being a defence oriented force to one that is capable of reacting to situations further afield than South Africa.

    He said the South African National Defence Force needed to be redesigned to take into account South Africa’s involvement in global peace-keeping missions, particularly elsewhere in Africa.

    “The demands of sustaining and maintaining forces over long distances in remote and underdeveloped locations, for example during peace missions, are a particular challenge. Such capabilities may differ from what is required to support operations in defence of South Africa or in support of the people of South Africa.”

    South Africa’s soldiers had to be equipped with skills that they can impart to the populace of countries where they perform peacekeeping operations, he said. After demobilisation from the SANDF these soldiers would be able to carry these skills into the local economy.

    Lekota said that soldiers who learned only how to shoot and be shot at were becoming redundant to the country’s needs and requirements as well as the economies of the countries where South Africa is engaged in peace-keeping and reconstruction.

    South Africa and Iran meet to explore maritime interests

    Tehran, 28 May 2008 – A second meeting between South Africa and Iran on port and shipping co-operation was held this week in the Iran capital.

    Specialists from both countries met to study ways of developing greater shipping and technical co-operation, ship-building, development of ports and other related matters.

    Iran’s Ports & Shipping Company director in charge of transit and tariffs, Gholam-Reza Sasani told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that having such meetings were necessary in order to increase shipping activities within Iran’s sea lanes.

    He said South Africa and Iran shared cordial relations and each had mutual experiences to share.

    Sasani said that Iran and South Africa aimed at reaching an agreement on boosting bilateral co-operation and improving security for South African ports.

    The meeting concluded on Wednesday - IRNA

    Inflation at 10.4 percent as food, fuel prices continue to climb

    by Michael Appel

    Pretoria, 28 May - The usual price increases in food, fuel and power as well as transport have pushed April's Consumer Price Index, excluding interest on mortgage bands (CPIX), to 10.4 percent year-on-year (y/y).

    The latest CPIX figure of 10.4 percent y/y is 0.3 of a percentage point higher than March's 10.1 percent y/y reported Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), Wednesday.

    The main drivers behind increased inflation were price increases in food, fuel and power, transport, household operation, education, medical care and health expenses.

    “We can see the usual suspects at play here like food and fuel price increases ... all of which represent a significant deterioration in the inflation outlook for South Africa.

    “We expect inflation to peak at about 12 percent by August 2008, and then will possibly flatten out for the rest of the year and then gradually trend downward in 2009.

    “We expect to see the first possible interest rate cuts in mid-2009,” said economist at Econometrix Treasury Management (ETM) George Glynos, speaking to BuaNews on Wednesday.

    Economists across the board believe it's a done deal that the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will hike interest rates again when they meet in June and August 2008.

    The repo rate jumped to 11.5 percent after the MPC hiked interest rates by 50 basis points or 0.5 percent in April this year citing deteriorating inflation expectations.

    The prime lending rate set by commercial banks was then raised to a new five-year high of 15 percent in April 2008.

    The MPC has raised interest rates to a cumulative 450 basis points or 4.5 percent since the inflationary cycle began in June 2006.

    March's inflation figure breached the Reserve Bank's inflation targeting band of 3 - 6 percent for the 12th consecutive time and economists are beginning to question the Bank’s inflation targeting framework.

    Commenting on the latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth figure of 2.1 percent for the first quarter of 2008, Mr Glynos said: “Primarily the markets tend to look at GDP figures as historical figures which the market has already been through.

    “So I doubt yesterday's [Tuesday] GDP figure will have much effect on the interest rate decision being made by the MPC in June.

    “The GDP figure showed that the mining industry took a hefty knock [contracting by 22 percent] as a result of load shedding, but power cuts became scheduled which allowed businesses to plan around them so the effects became less.

    “There should be a rise in GDP in the second and third quarter GDP figures as the mining industry returned to near full operation by then.”

    With regard to the effects of recent attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa on the markets, Mr Glynos said the violence dipped the Rand by a few cents to the Dollar, but did not have such a major effect.

    Two reasons, he said, why the markets didn't dip to severely is firstly because international investors look at the violence as something that is likely to pass relatively quickly, and secondly because the majority of perpetrators are unemployed and do not have an effect on economic productivity.

    While the markets may not have suffered too much, Mr Glynos believes trade relations with other South African Development Community (SADC) countries as far up as Nigeria has been damaged.

    South Africans must also brace themselves for yet another fuel increase of about 50 cents a litre set to come through in the first week of June 2008.

    The price of unleaded 93-octane petrol will cost motorists just under R10 level at about R9.95, said Mr Glynos. – BuaNews

    Dubai Maritime City to play key role in Arab maritime sector

    A high-level delegation headed by Amer Ali, CEO of Dubai Maritime City, the world’s first purpose-built maritime centre and member of the Dubai World Group, recently completed a visit to Egypt where it met with the Arab Sea Ports Federation and the Arab Federation of Chambers of Shipping. The purpose of the meetings was to give an overview of Dubai Maritime City and the progress the City has witnessed so far as well as discuss ways of cooperation between the parties.

    The visit began with a tour of the city of Alexandria, followed by a workshop with the Arab Sea Ports Federation that was attended by Rear Admiral Hisham Omar El Sersawy, Head of the Maritime Transport Sector at the Egyptian Ministry of Transport, and Rear Admiral Isamuddin Badawi, Secretary General of the Arab Sea Ports Federation, in addition to a large number of the Federations’ members, where Dubai Maritime City invited owners of ships and shipping companies to open offices in Dubai.

    The workshop also touched on the field of maritime education and to this regard, Ali stated: “Participants commended the recently launched Dubai Maritime City Campus, as it will open a window of great opportunity to the region in terms of supplying a group of specialists and professionals in the various maritime fields, filling the gap in qualified manpower currently needed in the Arab world.”

    The participants also discussed the importance of flagging of marine vessels, which are used to distinguish ships and the countries they belong to in accordance with the international system. At the conclusion of the meeting, Ali extended an invitation to the members of the Federation to visit Dubai Maritime City to see the developmental activities currently taking place and witness the rapid progress of the project.

    The delegation also visited where they presented the City and discussed ways of cooperation and development between the two sides. The Federation extended an invitation to Dubai Maritime City to participate in all symposiums and conferences organised by it. Representing all members of the Arab Federation of Chambers of Shipping, Rear Admiral Mohsen, its Secretary General, highlighted the importance of strengthening relations between the two sides for the further development of the maritime sector across the Arab world.

    Commenting on this meeting, Ali stated: “Our meeting with the Arab Federation of Chambers of Shipping was a very productive and interesting one, which we hope would be activated in the future through a wide range of partnerships with the Federation and its members.” – ameinfo.com

    AP Moller shipyard warns of possible layoffs

    Denmark, 28 May - AP Moller’s troubled Lindø shipyard is still operating at a massive loss and is being hit hard by international fluctuations, including the US dollar, the company has disclosed.

    In a statement AP Moller says that severe competition from the Far East, where costs are considerably lower than in Denmark, is contributing to put Lindø under pressure.

    “This is the background for presenting a plan for an efficiency drive to Lindø's Board of Directors, a plan which the Board has discussed at today's meeting," says Lars-Erik Brenøe, Chairman of the Board.

    He said the objective of implementing the plan is to ensure that there will still be a shipyard on Funen in the coming years.

    “The Owner has in recent years invested substantial amounts in the yard, but it is necessary now to bring down the yard’s costs significantly in order to provide momentum for its possibilities of surviving in the long term.”

    As a result it might not be possible to avoid layoffs, Brenøe said, adding that the plan involves a number of initiatives from everybody in the yard – management, white collars and blue collars, with a view to strengthening the yard’s productivity and competitiveness.

    Infrastructure investment can improve Africa's growth - Mbeki

    by Bathandwa Mbola

    Yokohama, 28 May - The mobilisation of resources to Africa and investment into infrastructure will ensure that the African continent’s growth is improved and sustainable, says President Thabo Mbeki.

    President Mbeki was addressing delegates attending the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) currently being held in Yokohama, Japan on Wednesday.

    Referring to measures that were needed to be put in place for reducing poverty and inequality in the continent, Mr Mbeki said increased revenues to improve the business environment, build infrastructure, increased access to finance for entrepreneurs and improved health and education where needed.

    These, he said, would ensure Africa’s integration into the global economy, especially with regard to helping the majority of Africans to have access to and be proficient with modern information and communication technologies (ICT).

    “These measures will help to unlock growth right down to the bottom of the pyramid - the rural poor,” President Mbeki told the summit.

    In terms of the role of the private sector, he said investing in the economies of Africa was vital to Africa’s expeditious economic growth.

    Explaining this to the delegates, the President said this would mean investing in a way that not only aims to turn around the marginal share of investment flows that Africa currently attracts.

    “... But to ensure that investment is broad-based and long-term, and contributes to the development of productive capacity and the broadening of the industrial base, with the concomitant critical infrastructure needed to support economic development on the continent.”

    Access to new technologies at affordable prices and investment in research and development, technology and innovation is equally imperative to our ability to sustain and boost the current rates of growth, he said.

    “Undoubtedly, the issue of technology transfer remains critical and better ways have to be found to assist developing countries build capacity.”

    The African continent has experienced sustained economic growth that has seen average growth of over five percent in the past four years.

    Already, the continent has initiated important programmes that are critical to this matter of boosting economic growth and development, such as the on-going programmes of the African Union through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); various programmes of the Regional Economic Communities, the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund and other initiatives.

    The Ticad is attended by leaders and representatives from 52 African countries and development partners and is discussing sustained growth and long-term development for the African continent.

    Under the theme “Towards a Vibrant Africa: Continent of Hope and Opportunity,” the leaders will among other things focus their topics on boosting economic growth, ensuring human security and addressing environment and climate change issues.

    The summit also provides a valuable opportunity to promote the African Agenda as a priority with Japan and its development partners.

    It also aims to consolidate peace, human-centred development and poverty reduction through economic development; boosting growth, achieving the Millennium Development Goals; consolidating peace and democratisation and addressing environmental issues.

    Since the establishment of Ticad, there has been the Africa-China, Africa-India and EU-AU summits.

    This year’s Ticad has attracted more than double the number of leaders compared to the previous summit.

    Japan has also involved itself in the war against poverty in Africa but the global goal of reducing poverty by half in seven years seems unlikely for most African countries.

    Like Africa, Japan believes trade can act as a catalyst in reducing poverty.

    With the global upsurge in food prices, Japan has pledged more than USD 50 million over the coming three months to improve the situation. - BuaNews

    Pic of the day – GRAND ELENA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The LNG tanker GRAND ELENA (122,229-gt) at anchor in the Durban Roads where the ship has remained on laybye over a number of weeks. Hugo Schuitermaker took the picture

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