Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 25, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • False alarm about Indian destroyer visit to South Africa

  • Mogadishu port re-opens after 11 years

  • Africa closes in on SA's own growth target

  • Cape Town port disruption warning

  • Mpahlwa calls for improved trade, investment relations with Nigeria

  • Ship calls restricted at Boma port as political unease continues

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    False alarm about Indian destroyer visit to South Africa

    According to the Indian High Commission in South Africa the Indian Navy destroyer INS Mumbai is not visiting South Africa from next week or in the near future. The military attaché in Pretoria told Ports & Ships yesterday he had no knowledge of a visit by any Indian Navy ship at this time.

    Durban will however have a visit by the South African Navy combat support ship SAS Drakensberg in the near future. The ship is on a routine cargo run to Salisbury Island.

    Another SAN vessel, the mine countermeasure vessel SAS Umkomaas which has been taking part in naval diving exercises this week at Richards Bay in the company of the strike craft SAS Galeshewe, has entered Durban for urgent repairs and is currently on the synchrolift at the island.

    Meanwhile it has also been learned that a female officer will shortly be appointed as commanding officer of SAS Galeshewe, the first time that a woman has taken command of one of the navy’s ships.

    The navy recently announced the appointment of its second female admiral – Rear Admiral (Junior Grade) Laura Jansen van Vuuren. She became the first white female flag officer in the navy as well. Admiral van Vuuren has been in the navy since 1977, having joined at the time of the SWANS (South African Women Auxiliary Naval Services).

    In other naval news the South African frigate SAS Amatola will shortly leave for South America to take part in this year’s Atlasur joint naval exercises along with ships of Brazil and Argentina. It’s not yet known if other ships will be accompanying SAS Amatola.

    Mogadishu port re-opens after 11 years

    Nairobi, 24 Aug 2006 (IRIN) - As another sign of improved security in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the country's main port was officially re-opened on Thursday after more than 11 years.

    "The chairman of the courts (Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed) officially opened the port today (Thursday)," said Sheikh Umar Ahmed Weheliye, the port manager.

    Aerial view of the port of Mogadishu, which was reopened yesterday after a gap of 11 years. Click image to enlarge. Picture courtesy IRIN/Wikipedia

    The city is now run by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controls much of south and central Somalia.

    The UIC on 4 June defeated a group of warlords who called themselves the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter Terrorism, who had controlled the city for the past 16 years. Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdid, the last member of the alliance, was defeated and escaped from the city on 10 July.

    The opening of the port a month after the last warlord was removed is welcome news to the business community, said businessman Salad Ali.

    "In a matter of one month they (the UIC) have restored security, opened the airport and now the port. That is an incredible achievement by any standards, but in our case this is nothing short of a miracle," said Ali.

    The business community in Mogadishu has, since 1995, been using the beach port of El Ma'an, 30 km north of the city, which was expensive and time-consuming. "Since ships could not dock, cargo was offloaded on small boats that would bring it ashore. On many occasions cargo was dropped in the sea and the business people had to absorb the loss or pass it on to the consumer," Ali said.

    They also had to deal with roadblocks manned by different militias, who extorted money from the trucks delivering goods to the city, adding to the cost of the goods.

    Now it will take fewer man-hours to offload ships, less time to deliver the goods and with minimum losses. "This means that everything will be cheaper to the consumer," Ali said.

    The opening of the port would also increase the amount of import and export trade and as a consequence create jobs, Ali added.

    Weheliye, who was appointed to his post four weeks ago by the UIC, said he and his team had spent the past three weeks repairing and cleaning the port. "The port fell into disrepair since no one has taken care of it in the last 11 years. There were also tonnes of garbage that accumulated in that time."

    He said the port would now be able to take vessels of up to 8,000 tonnes and "will soon be operating at full capacity once we get all the equipment we need".

    Weheliye said the port will also ease the difficulties faced by aid agencies in delivering assistance to needy Somalis.

    The first ship, carrying fuel, is expected to dock on Thursday or Friday, he said.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Africa closes in on SA's own growth target

    by Oupa Segalwe (BuaNews)

    Pretoria - Africa had almost reached South Africa's own economic growth target of 6 percent in the last two years, the Reserve Bank's Annual Economic Report released on Wednesday has revealed.

    "The continent maintained a real growth rate of around 5 percent in both 2004 and 2005.

    "There are indications that the robust expansion continued in the first half of 2006, making this the strongest and most consistent growth performance in recent history," the report noted.

    Through the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA), South Africa seeks to achieve an economic growth rate of 6 percent by 2010 and halve poverty and unemployment by 2014.

    Last year, South Africa recorded a real growth rate of 4.9, the strongest since 1984, the report said.

    While the growth spurt in 1984 was short-lived, said the Reserve Bank, the economic expansion in 2005 formed part of a sustained and robust upswing which to date, has been the longest in the country's business cycle history.

    It was further indicated that the local economy had become less dependent on commodities over the past quarter of a century, as the services sector increased in importance.

    This year's second quarter Growth Domestic Product figures indicated the economy had grown by 4.9 percent, with most of this growth being attributed to the contribution made by the real estate, finance and business services sector.

    The Reserve Bank also indicated that households were receiving more money in part due to Government's poverty alleviation efforts and tax relief.

    The increases in households' disposable income were further attributed to rising employment and wage levels.

    "Real final consumption expenditure by general government also rose as the delivery of various services was stepped up," the report said.

    The report stated that strong growth in spending by public and private companies on activities, from electricity and communication to manufacturing and construction was offset by rising levels of debt.

    Household debt relative to disposable income reached new record highs in each successive quarter since mid-2005.

    This debt, the report said, was mainly incurred in order to acquire real-estate and consumer durables.

    At the time, the cost of servicing household debt had remained moderate relative to disposable income, given the comparatively low level of interest rates.

    However, the repo rate, (the rate at which the Reserve Bank lends money to commercial banks) has increased two consecutive times by 50 basis points and is currently at 8 percent.

    This has led to banks in turn increasing their lending rates to consumers and resulting in increased costs to servicing debt.

    Cape Town port disruption warning

    The Harbourmaster’s office of the port of Cape Town has issued notice that with the scheduled sailing of the Gavea Lifter and oilrig SEDCO 709 on this coming Tuesday (29 August 2006), four tugs will be engaged in the operation and there will be some disruption to other ship working within the harbour.

    The port advises that shipping delays will however be kept to a minimum.

    The sailing is dependent on weather conditions.

    Mpahlwa calls for improved trade, investment relations with Nigeria

    by Sello Tang (BuaNews)

    Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa has called for enhanced trade relations between South Africa and the Nigerian government and its business community.

    Officially opening the Nigeria Investment Forum in Johannesburg on Wednesday (23 August), Minister Mpahlwa explained that there were vast untapped business opportunities waiting to be exploited in both countries.

    In an attempt to expand and further strengthen existing bilateral relations with Nigeria, Mr Mpahlwa said his department has drafted a seven-point strategy programme.

    Included is the development of a coordinated comprehensive strategy for economic cooperation with Nigeria.

    Minister Mpahlwa indicated that his department was still in consultation with various stakeholders in this regard to determine the scope and modalities on the programme.

    Other issues included in the programme are to establish a working group on Nigeria consisting of government, private sector and civil society; to encourage the implementation of an African agenda in a bid to enhance trade development in regions and to establish a joint venture and technical partnership with Nigeria on common markets and projects.

    The two countries would also look into exploring business ties in the oil and gas sectors, seeing that Nigeria was rich in oil while South Africa was wealthy in gas to liquid technologies through Sasol and PetroSA.

    Mr Mpahlwa also commended the Nigerian contingency for having organised such a forum, saying it was a "healthy" platform to help grow the economy in both countries.

    "I trust that this passion for growing our economic relations will continue from strength to strength.

    "In providing a platform for discussion on challenges facing business in our countries, opportunities and potential threats for transacting business, this event can act as a catalyst for greater economic cooperation between South Africa and Nigeria," he said.

    The Nigerian Investment Forum seeks to foster and highlight the importance of creating beneficial business linkages between the two countries and its business communities.

    As the leading economic hubs in their respective regions, South Africa and Nigeria contribute massively to their regional economies.

    Both countries have a standing economic and trade relation spanning over 12 years, since the signing of the South Africa/Nigeria Bilateral Trade Agreement and Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investment agreements.

    Nigeria is South Africa's preferred leading importer in the continent. It also comes third in export activities with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola taking first and second places respectively.

    Mr Mpahlwa was however concerned about export activities between the two countries which were skewed towards Nigeria; while in contrast, the major exports from SA into Nigeria showed greater diversification.

    "We must work on ensuring greater diversification in this import pattern.

    "We will also intensify our efforts to attract Nigerian investment into South Africa particularly in light of the attractive investment possibilities presented by the hosting of the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010," he noted.

    Ship calls restricted at Boma port as political unease continues

    The number of ship calls at the DRC port of Boma is to be restricted until such time as port congestion has begun to lift. According to the West African shipping operator OTAL a restriction has also been placed on the number of containers that may be discharged at the port for the same reason.

    The congestion is in part a result of the political unrest facing the country which is in the midst of electing a new president (see our comprehensive report ‘DRC: Ceasefire silences the guns’ in yesterday’s News Bulletin).

    With unrest rampant in the capital city of Kinshasa in recent days (an uneasy truce is now in force and holding) this has impacted severely on cargo working between Kinshasa and other centres, notably the two coastal ports. With the next round of elections taking place on 29 October delays with cargo working are possible for some time.

    The Democratic Republic of Congo is unique country in that despite this being a huge country with over 9,000 km of land frontier involving ten neighbouring countries, it has little more than 40km of coastline and relies entirely on the Congo River for access to the ocean.

    The country has a number of river ports, several of which are navigable by ocean-going ships while others are restricted because of a series of rapids that seal off Kinshasa from the sea. Kinshasa therefore serves as a transshipment port for river-borne traffic that makes its way to the coast by rail or road - ocean-going ships travelling up the Congo River only as far as the ports of Boma and Matadi.

    Were it not for the rapids between Matadi and Kinshasa then Central African would be accessible to large vessels for huge distances inland, reaching almost all the way to the Great Lakes.

    Sadly this is not to be and the DRC remains reliant on the three ports at Banana (at the mouth), Boma and Matadi from where cargo has to be transshipped inland to Kinshasa before it can again be placed on the water.

    At some future time Ports & Ships hopes to have a feature on the river ships of the Congo and Kasai Rivers and possibly those of the Great Lakes.

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