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Cablegate: African Union Conference Ratifies Martime Charter

VZCZCXRO6168
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHSA #2660/01 3620816
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280816Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0739
INFO RUCPDC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1835

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 002660

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV EWWT PGOV SF
SUBJECT: AFRICAN UNION CONFERENCE RATIFIES MARTIME CHARTER

This cable is part of a series of reporting on regional transport
infrastructure developments in Southern Africa.

1. (SBU) Summary. South Africa hosted a week-long African Union
(AU) Conference for Ministers responsible for maritime transport in
Durban during the week of October 12. The AU Maritime Charter was
initially developed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1993, and was
adopted by 36 AU member states at the Durban AU Conference. The
goals of the charter include "creating a safe, secure, and clean
maritime transport industry." The South African Department of
Transport announced new maritime security initiatives to support the
AU conference, and unveiled public transport projects to improve
infrastructure and service delivery during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Continued growth of the African maritime sector will require
government and private-sector efforts to address piracy threats.
Economic Assistant attended the AU conference gala dinner hosted by
South African Minister of Transport S'bu Ndebele. End Summary.

-----------------------
AFRICAN UNION DEVELOPS
MARITIME CHARTER IN 1993
-----------------------

2. (SBU) An African Charter on Maritime Transport, the Addis Ababa
Declaration and Plan of Action, was originally developed at a
conference of African Transport Ministers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
in 1993. This charter provided a framework for cooperation among
member governments of the African Union, and between African and
non-African countries. The first follow up AU conference was held
in Abuja, Nigeria and reviewed the implementation process for the
Maritime Charter. The main objective of the second AU conference in
Durban was to complete the ratification process for the Addis Ababa
Declaration.

-------------------------
PROGRESS MADE ON MARITIME
CHARTER IN DURBAN
-------------------------

3. (SBU) The African Union achieved consensus on the Maritime
Charter on October 16, during the conference in Durban. The charter
was adopted by 36 member states with the goals of "creating a safe,
secure, and clean maritime transport industry." Also present during
the deliberations were representatives of other African regional
economic communities, the European Union and other international
organizations. According to Ndebele, the charter maps a solid and
defined place for the maritime sector in Africa and will help propel
Africa towards its rightful place in the world economy."

4. (SBU) A customs representative from the South African Revenue
Service told Transport Officer that the major challenges that
emerged during the ministerial debates and charter adoption process
centered on linguistic barriers, not policy differences.
Inaccuracies in the Arabic and French translations often led to
lengthy deliberations. The representative also noted that progress
was made to promote women in the African maritime sector. Plans are
underway to create an umbrella organization to promote women within
the maritime sector and a conference is being planned for Durban in
2010.

---------------------------
CHARTER FOCUSES ON BUILDING
AFRICAN SHIPPING INDUSTRY
---------------------------

5. (SBU) The overall aim of the charter is to implement harmonized
Africa-wide transport policies to promote sustained growth and
development of shipping generally and African merchant fleets in
particular. Some of the practical objectives of the charter include
the promotion of cooperation among the maritime administrators of
Qthe promotion of cooperation among the maritime administrators of
member states through new regional entities, which could ultimately
lead to improved standards on the coast, in ports, and on the
continent's inland waterways.

6. (SBU) The maritime charter also aims to promote the development
and use of African national and regional shipping lines and provide
legislative protection for African operators through cabotage laws.
(Note: Politically, cabotage regulations restrict trade to domestic
or regional operators and are a form of protectionism.
Justifications for cabotage regulations include national security
and the need to regulate public safety. End Note.) The charter
also encourages the establishment of shippers' councils to represent
the interest of cargo owners.

7. (SBU) The charter recommends the establishment of an integrated
coast guard network for Africa (split into three separate regions)
to enforce these steps. A strong emphasis will also be placed on
the provision and strengthening of facilities for increased maritime
training. This included the need for strengthened state-run port

PRETORIA 00002660 002 OF 002


organizations, increasing the number of trained surveyors, and the
creation of a dedicated maritime university.

-------------------------
GREATER RESPONSE REQUIRED
FOR PIRACY THREAT
-------------------------

8. (SBU) Ndebele and other speakers highlighted areas of strong
concern for the maritime sector, including piracy in the Gulf of
Aden, as well as international dumping of toxic waste in African
waters and near African ports. Interpol Executive Director
Jean-Michel Loubotin explained that pirates operating off the Somali
coast were under the control of crime syndicates, and that foreign
criminals have become involved because of the attraction of
multi-million dollar ransoms. Loubotin said piracy could now be
classified as organized crime with policing, social, and economic
dimensions, but the international naval patrolling capacity in the
area is not enough to solve the problem.

9. (SBU) Ndebele said an adequate response to the current piracy
threat would require the creation of a combined international force
with support from all nations, but he did not provide specific
details about the envisioned force. According to press reports,
most African governments (with the exceptions of Kenya and the
Seychelles who are directly affected) have adopted a hands-off
approach to piracy, leaving the problem to other international
forces and the respective shipping lines to resolve.

-----------------------------
SOUTH AFRICA TO PLAY REGIONAL
MARITIME LEADERSHIP ROLE
-----------------------------

10. (SBU) The SAG has decided to expand its national maritime data
collection system to include an Africa Cooperative Data Center to
support the implementation of the AU Maritime Charter and to improve
national transport systems for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As a part
of October's National Transport Month, Ndebele announced
improvements to the South African Center for Sea Watch and Response
(CSWR) and conducted maritime and aviation table-top rescue
exercises at the end of October. CSWR has the capacity to identify
and track vessels up to 1,000 miles away from its coastline, as well
as SA-flagged vessels anywhere in the world. This data,
automatically transmitted every six hours, can also be displayed on
an electronic chart which is accessible via a secured website. Once
a vessel is identified, full details of the vessel can be accessed
via a ship's database.

11. (SBU) The CSWR has access to the Automatic Identification System
(AIS) data of ships on the coast in the areas around the major ports
of South Africa which means a vessel's every move can be tracked.
According to officials, this system will be enhanced to ensure
direct contact with the vessel to improve the CSWR's response time
to maritime incidents. A Satellite AIS is also being developed to
receive signals from vessels anywhere on earth and then transmit
data back to a ground station. Ndebele emphasized that this
capability can be another resource that can be used for the benefit
of all African countries.

12. (SBU) The International Maritime Organization (IMO) reports that
globally there is a chronic shortage of 34,000 seafarer (marine)
officers and 200,000 non-officers. According to Ndebele, South
Africa plans to train 1,200 officers a year and about 7,000
non-officers. South Africa is also planning to form at least one
dedicated maritime university in one of the coastal provinces.

-------
COMMENT
-------

13. (SBU) The African Union reached agreement on the overall
Q13. (SBU) The African Union reached agreement on the overall
framework of a Maritime Charter originally developed in 1993, but
still needs to develop the specific plans for implementation of
these broad goals. The ministers met at a time of heightened
awareness regarding maritime security. The threat of piracy on the
Gulf of Aden has affected commercial operations in ports on the
Eastern coast of the continent. Continued growth of the African
maritime sector will require addressing this security threat. Thus
far, most efforts have been ad hoc or at the expense of the private
shipping lines. African governments will have to make more
concerted efforts to contain the piracy threat if they hope to
increase growth in the maritime sector. End Comment.

GIPS

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