Address to Tanzanian maritime community
Speech by Efthimios
E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization,
Tanzania, 6 May 2006
Distinguished members of the maritime community of the United Republic of Tanzania,
constructors, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be with you today and I am delighted that I have
been afforded the opportunity to say a few words to you this afternoon on, this,
my second visit to your country.
When I first came to Tanzania on behalf of IMO back in 1997, it was under very
different circumstances and for other purposes, which I will refer to later.
So I am delighted to be here again to celebrate with you the advances made in
the maritime sector of this nation that, over its 42 years of existence, has
grown in stature on the world scene and is today known for its rich culture
and history, the variety of its agricultural and industrial products, its growing
economy, the nobility of its people and its natural beauties. These and many
others are the legacies of a young, vibrant, growing nation as it faces the
challenges of the 21st century, of a globalized economy and the digital age,
of harnessing all its varied assets and talents for the benefit of today's and
its future generations.
Building on those legacies, Tanzania today enjoys good relations with its neighbours
in the region and, in recent years, has actively participated in efforts to
promote the peaceful resolution of disputes. In March 1996, Tanzania, Uganda,
and Kenya revived discussion of economic and regional co-operation, a process
which culminated with the signing of an East African Co-operation Treaty in
September 1999, an important step in the direction ofeconomic integration that
culminated in the establishment of the current East African Community (EAC).
As a servant of the United Nations, I am also pleased to note the strong co
operation today between Tanzania and the EAC, with whom IMO has a close working
relationship with regard to the implementation of a project for the safety of
navigation on Lake Victoria.
From the foregoing one can appreciate that, although a relatively new country,
Tanzania has taken its rightful place within the community of nations and is
playing a significant role regionally and internationally. And while it may
also be a relatively new country in terms of shipping, this region's maritime
and commercial roots go back centuries. The coastal area was once the subject
of an intense maritime rivalry first between the Portuguese and Arab traders
and later between various European powers. By the early 1800s, Zanzibar had
become an important centre of the spice trade - so much so that the Sultan of
Oman moved his capital there from Muscat in 1840.
Today, Tanzania's maritime connections look both outwards and inwards. Looking
out to sea, the ocean coastline is some 800 nautical miles in length and sees
extensive coastal traffic in addition to some 5,800 ships that visit Tanzanian
ports each year. One of the world's major maritime traffic lanes passes along
the coast of Tanzania with big tankers, taking the Cape route between Europe
and the Middle East, regularly passing by. And, looking inland, Tanzania shares
with neighbouring countries three of Africa's Great Lakes, Lake Malawi, Lake
Tanganyika and Lake Victoria.
In this latter
context, I take the opportunity to assure you of IMO's continued support to
the improvement of the safety of navigation on Lake Victoria. This huge body
of water has been the scene of several serious accidents over the course of
many years, most noticeably the sinking of the ferry Bukoba nearly ten
years ago to this day causing the loss of hundreds of precious human lives,
most of them Tanzanian citizens. As I mentioned earlier, in March 1997, I came
to Mwanza (in my then capacity as Director of IMO's Maritime Safety Division)
to participate in the first workshop on the safety of navigation on Lake Victoria,
which resulted in the formulation of a project to put in place measures to ensure
the safety of life and property on the lake and the protection of its environment.
This project has been a long-term commitment, the most recent manifestation
of which was a High-Level Meeting in Arusha, last October, jointly organized
by IMO and the East African Community, which brought together Members of Parliament,
senior Government officials (Ministers and permanent Secretaries responsible
for transport) from the three partners States of EAC and relevant legal and
technical experts. As ever, the delegation of Tanzania played a full and constructive
part in that meeting and helped to move this important issue closer towards
a satisfactory resolution. Unfortunately, only very recently the elements struck
again and I was very saddened to hear the news earlier in this week of a small
ferry sinking in Lake Victoria with the loss of 28 persons on board.
gentlemen, with such a clear interest in shipping, it is no surprise that Tanzania
joined IMO more than 30 years ago and it is satisfying to note that your country
has been able to accept 12 key IMO Conventions, including SOLAS and the Load
Lines and STCW Conventions.
between IMO and the maritime sector in Tanzania is, of course, already well
established. IMO has, for example, assisted the Dar-es-Salaam Maritime Institute
(DMI) in various ways, by providing publications and model courses, providing
training equipment and materials, donating books to its library and organizing
national training courses on assessment, examination and certification of seafarers.
Tanzania has also supported IMO through the in-kind hosting of a number of IMO-sponsored
technical co-operation activities such as the regional workshop on Safety of
Navigation in the Inland Lakes, held in Kigoma in March 2005 and the regional
training course on Port State Control, for 13 Anglophone African countries,
held at DMI in September 2005.
It may be
recalled that since 2000, IMO has fielded a number of technical assistance missions
to Tanzania for the establishment of a maritime administration and I am pleased
to note that, as a result of those missions, you now have a new Merchant Shipping
Act and the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) has
been established in that regard.
Tanzanian nationals have been trained at IMO's World Maritime University (one
of the highest numbers from an African country) and more continue to be enrolled
as the years go by. Many of these graduates are now active participants as members
of the Tanzanian delegations to various IMO meetings, or they are employees
of the government, ports and harbours authorities, educational institutions
and UN agencies, as well as the industrial and commercial sectors - indeed,
I am informed that some of you are here with us this afternoon, which gives
me particular pleasure and satisfaction. The same applies to the eight Tanzanian
maritime lawyers who have been trained at the IMO International Maritime Law
Institute and to those Tanzanian nationals who have been awarded IMO fellowships
in a wide range of maritime related topics.
in the term "co-operation" is the idea of mutual, beneficial assistance
and it is certainly the case that the relationship between Tanzania and IMO
has not been all one way. At the IMO Search and Rescue Conference in Florence,
Italy, in 2000, Tanzania, along with Kenya, Seychelles and Somalia, was designated
to be one of the countries covered by the then proposed sub-regional search
and rescue systems for the African countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian
Oceans. Subsequent meetings between these countries have culminated in a Regional
Multilateral Agreement on Co-ordination of Maritime Search and Rescue Services,
signed in Zanzibar in May 2002. The parties to this Agreement decided that a
sub-regional Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre would be located in Mombasa,
Kenya, and it was my privilege to commission the Centre yesterday.
for its part, is to host a Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre at Kivukoni Front, close
to the entrance of the Dar-es-Salaam Port. The Tanzanian Government has offered
to fund the construction of the Sub-Centre and, for this, it has the appreciation
of all concerned, because the sub-regional system that is being put in place
will provide a much-needed search and rescue capability along the long coastline
of East Africa, which will be welcomed by seafarers not just from Africa but
from all nations whose vessels transit these waters.
framework of our Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, IMO, Inmarsat
and other donor institutions have provided financial or in-kind support for
the acquisition of the GMDSS and SAR equipment required by the Sub-Centre, including
the associated computerized network, all of which has already been acquired
and will be delivered as soon as construction of the building is complete, which
I hope will be very soon.
gentlemen, I began these remarks by mentioning the challenges faced by the developing
nations - particularly those in Africa - and I would like to conclude with a
few words about some of the things we can do, together, to help overcome them.
For there is no doubt that, today, the inter-dependence and inter connectivity
between the peoples of the world is such that all of us, whether rich or poor,
developed or developing, privileged or less so, have a vested interest in finding
It is my
strong hope that the bonds between IMO and the African countries, strong though
they are, will become ever stronger, and a number of initiatives are currently
underway to achieve this. Last year, the IMO Assembly adopted a resolution on
technical co-operation as a means to support the United Nations Millennium Declaration
and Development Goals. This resolution places the emphasis for the Organization's
technical co-operation activities on meeting the special assistance needs of
also approved the establishment of a correspondence group to identify the linkage
between the Millennium Development Goals and IMO's Integrated Technical Co-operation
Programme, which will report to our Technical Co-operation Committee at its
56th session this coming June. Moreover, the IMO Council has agreed that the
theme for this year's World Maritime Day should be "Technical Co-operation:
IMO's response to the 2005 World Summit" and, in our efforts to highlight
the substance of this theme, we shall be focusing global attention on the maritime-related
needs of Africa and the support that IMO and the international community can
provide to the continent to strengthen further its existing capacities for safe,
secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans. I am confident that Tanzania
will play a positive and constructive role in the process, along with the role
your country can play in raising the defences of the shipping industry against
international terrorism and in eliminating the modern scourge of piracy which
is causing much concern throughout the world and most recently over the waters
adjacent to the coast of Somalia.
gentlemen, thank you.