The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is set to launch Antarctic Season and will soon be establishing an Antarctic Centre, with the purpose of bringing the Antarctica Continent closer to the citizens of South Africa and promote economic opportunities. The Port of Cape Town has been identified as the strategic location to host this centre.
The establishment of the centre is one of the deliverables of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Its Antarctic Strategy was announced at the launch of Antarctic Season, jointly hosted by the DEA and Transnet National Ports Authority at the Port of Cape Town on 3 December 2018, which marks the departure of the SA Agulhas II for its annual Antarctic relief voyage and the start of the annual South African-Norwegian seminar and exhibition, ending 7 December 2018.
The Antarctic Season occurs between November and March annually in Gateway to Antarctic nations and cities. In South Africa, the season commences with the departure of SA Agulhas II during the first week of December.
Since 2016, the Department has held seminars with the Norwegians Polar Institute over two days during this period. This year the programme has been extended over five-days, signalling the strategic importance of South Africa as an Antarctic Gateway. The event, hosted at the Port of Cape Town, includes stakeholder exhibits that are open to the public, schools and guests, information sessions hosted by South Africa and Norway, as well as, public heritage presentations and the send-off of the SA Agulhas II. On the last day, Friday 07, Polar Gateways will be discussed by South African stakeholders and the Norwegians.
Speaking at the launch of Antarctic Season, the Director General of the DEA Ms N. Ngcaba, explained features and benefits of the Antarctic Centre. “The centre will accommodate the Antarctic Logistics Network, which will be a virtual network of members that provide advice, assistance and referrals as businesses that understand polar conditions. This will provide a single point of contact for all Antarctica related business enquiries, offering clients effortless connections to private businesses, educational institutions, research bodies and government agencies,” she said.
The centre will also serve to enhance geopolitical alliances and serve as a base for countries that relate to South Africa as a geographic entity for reasons linked to travel to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean Islands. These countries include Germany, Norway, Russia, Belgium, Japan, United Kingdom, India, Sweden, Netherlands and Finland.
Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana said the port welcomed the opportunity to house the new Antarctic Centre, as it fits into the mandate of Operation Phakisa. Launched in 2014, the programme aims to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans in order to create economic growth and job opportunities through fast-tracked development.
“The Port of Cape Town is pleased to work with the DEA in hosting the launch of Antarctic Season and the SA-Norwegian seminar, particularly because the exhibition element of the event is open to the public. TNPA is committed to bringing the community closer to the port and it is through educational exhibitions like this, that young South Africans will be exposed to the vast array of maritime careers on offer.”