Hydrography in Africa by gyvwpsjkko


                                                        Hydrography in Africa
                                                                                   by Captain Abri Kampfer, Hydrographer SA Navy

     The International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB) and many member states of the International Hydrographic
     Organisation (IHO) have spent significant time, human and financial resources in attempting to raise the
     awareness of the African coastal states on the fundamental importance of hydrography to their sustainable
     development, on the one hand, and their obligation to international shipping through their adherence to the
     International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), on the other.

            here has been some success             continuous cooperation amongst             The organisation currently has a
            but one has to realise that            national hydrographic offices. On          membership of eighty maritime states,
            there are other dire needs for         21 June 1921 the eighteen founding         with several others in the process of
     funding. While there is drought, famine       member states approved the statutes        becoming members. A glaring issue is
     and aids, charting would have a low           and directions that established the IHB.   the significant under-representation of
     priority and capacity building in various                                                African coastal states as members of
                                                   In 1967, the convention of the IHO
     forms will be required to improve the                                                    the organisation.
                                                   was adopted as an intergovernmental,
     situation. The IHO has realised this
                                                   technical and consultative organisation.   The current structure of the
     and this aspect will be very high on the
                                                   In 2005, amendments to the 1967            organisation has the convening of
     agenda for the future.
                                                   convention were approved and are           member states at a conference as
     The International Hydrographic                undergoing ratification by the member      the decision-making body, the IHB
     Organisation (IHO)                            states.                                    performing executive secretarial
                                                                                              functions, a number of committees and
     Despite the advances of the industrial        The objectives of the IHO contained in
                                                                                              working groups dealing with technical
     revolution, by the dawn of the 20th           the 2005 amended convention embrace
                                                                                              and policy matters and regional
     century, going to sea in ships remained       the global nature of hydrography and
                                                                                              hydrographic commissions (RHCs)
     a very hazardous endeavour. Following         the broad application of hydrographic
                                                                                              focusing on coordination issues.
     several maritime and navigation               data to ensure protection of the
     conferences during the period, a              marine environment and sustainable         The recently approved, but not ratified,
     hydrographic conference, convened             development, as well as the uniformity,    amendments to the convention will
     in London in 1919, proposed the               competency, coordination and               change the structure but clearly the
     establishment of an international             cooperation objectives of the earlier      same function must be performed.
     bureau to ensure effective and                versions.                                  Of importance is that the RHCs are
                                                                                              retained and will play a central role in
                                                                                              the organisation. There are sixteen
                                                                                              RHCs with the operative RHCs for this
                                                                                              region being the Mediterranean and
                                                                                              Black Sea Hydrographic Commission
                                                                                              for the states of northern Africa, the
                                                                                              East Atlantic Hydrographic Commission
                                                                                              for the states in western Africa and the
                                                                                              Atlantic Island states, the Southern
                                                                                              Africa and Islands Hydrographic
                                                                                              Commission for southern Africa,
                                                                                              eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean
                                                                                              Island states; and the North Indian
                                                                                              Ocean Hydrographic Commission that
                                                                                              includes the African states on the Red
                                                                                              Sea, Gulf of Aden and northern Indian

                                                                                              These commissions meet every one
                                                                                              to two years to discuss regional
                                                                                              coordination issues, to develop
                                                                                              regional positions on IHO issues and,
                                                                                              of particular importance to Africa, to
                                                                                              propose capacity building initiatives for
                                                                                              adoption by the IHO Capacity Building
 Fig. 1: International Hydrographic Bureau building, Monaco.                                  Committee. RHC meetings are open to

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                                                   of the International Convention on               through membership and active
                                                   Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS V) came             participation in the workings of the
                                                   into force. Three distinct points within         IHO.
                                                   Chapter V are of critical importance to
                                                                                                The IHO views the satisfaction of
                                                                                                the first two bullets in three distinct
                                                   •	   Regulation	4	requires	that	each	        phases. Phase I is the least complex
                                                        contracting government: “Shall          yet essential component that provides
                                                        take all steps necessary to ensure      for the collection and circulation of
                                                        that, when intelligence of any          nautical information necessary to
                                                        dangers is received from whatever       provide navigation warnings and
                                                        reliable source, it shall be promptly   to maintain existing charts and
                                                        brought to the knowledge of those       publications up to date. Phase II is
 Fig. 2: African regional hydrographic                  concerned and communicated to
                                                                                                the creation of a survey capability to
 commissions (RHCs).                                    other interested governments.”
                                                                                                conduct coastal projects and offshore
                                                   •	   Regulation	9	requires	that	             projects. Phase III is the production of
                                                        contracting governments:                charts and publications.
     all states in the region – IHO member              “Undertake to arrange for the
     or not. Unfortunately, attendance by               collection and compilation of           The status of hydrography in
     non-IHO member states, even when                   hydrographic data and the               Africa
     expenses are defrayed by other IHO                 publication, dissemination and
     member states, is infrequent.                      keeping up to date of all nautical      Fundamental to satisfying many of
                                                        information necessary for safe          the objectives of the IHO is a current
     The importance of hydrography                      navigation.”                            and complete understanding of the
     From its beginnings, hydrography has          •	   Additionally, contracting               status of hydrography and charting
     been employed primarily to support                 governments should: “Take into          throughout the world. IHO Special
     safety of navigation. Initially, the pilot         account, whenever possible,             Publication (S-55) “The Status of
     or master closely guarded hydrographic             relevant international resolutions      Hydrographic Surveying and Nautical
     data for his own use but the staggering            and recommendations” adopted            Charting, Worldwide” has undergone
     loss of life and impact on commerce                by the IHO to achieve the greatest      extensive updating in the last few
     due to inadequate navigational                     uniformity and standardisation          years. The analysis of this publication
     information lead to the founding of                in collection techniques, data          forms the basis for capacity building
     the IHB in 1921 and a movement                     management and product display,         projects and chart production stimuli.
     to more openly share hydrographic                  and “Undertake to coordinate their      Despite significant efforts to assemble
     information for the universal protection           activities to the greatest degree in    a complete and accurate status, a few
     of life at sea. Recent regulations                 order to ensure that hydrographic       states failed to respond to requests
     have gone beyond encouraging the                   and nautical information is made        for information and there may be
     sharing of data to the requirement for             available on a worldwide scale as       inaccuracies in the data deduced by the
     coastal states to collect, produce and             timely, reliably and unambiguously      IHB in the absence of a response.
     distribute hydrographic information.               as possible.” Thus meeting the
                                                        SOLAS obligation is best met            That maritime affairs are fundamental
     In July 2002, changes to Chapter V
                                                                                                to the interests of coastal African states
                                                                                                is demonstrated by the nearly universal
                                                                                                membership of coastal African states in
                                                                                                the International Maritime Organisation
                                                                                                (IMO). Unfortunately, membership
                                                                                                in the IHO does not have the same
                                                                                                universal acceptance. Clearly, much
                                                                                                improvement can be realised through
                                                                                                membership in the IHO and in active
                                                                                                participation in the appropriate
                                                                                                RHC. Restating the earlier point that
                                                                                                participation in a RHC is open to all
                                                                                                states in the region. While several
                                                                                                African states have joined a RHC as
                                                                                                associate members, their attendance at
                                                                                                the meetings is infrequent.

                                                                                                An essential early management action
                                                                                                to introduce, phase I, II, and III is the
                                                                                                formation of a national hydrographic
                                                                                                committee (NHC), a forum where
                                                                                                all the stakeholders in the collection
                                                                                                and use of hydrographic data meet
                                                                                                to discuss requirements, capabilities,
 Fig. 3: South African Navy Hydrographic Office, Cape Town.                                     priorities and responsibilities. Several

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                                                                                          the required nautical publications
                                                                                          and charts. While a certain level
                                                                                          of cartographic expertise is highly
                                                                                          desirable, attaining a fully-fledged
                                                                                          publishing capacity represents a large
                                                                                          investment in manpower, training and
                                                                                          equipment. Satisfying this capability
                                                                                          through commercial or bi-lateral
                                                                                          arrangements is the most expeditious
                                                                                          and effective solution for all but the
                                                                                          most developed and well-resourced
                                                                                          hydrographic office.

                                                                                          Status of nautical charting

                                                                                          IHO Special Publication (S-55) “The
                                                                                          Status of Hydrographic Surveying
                                                                                          and Nautical Charting, Worldwide”
                                                                                          provides a high level summary that
Fig. 4:Traditional paper chart.                                                           can be misinterpreted if a background
                                                                                          understanding is not applied. The
                                                                                          status of charting in Africa, does not
                                                                                          paint a picture of grave concern. By
                                                                                          and large, international (INT) charts (a
                                                                                          portfolio of paper charts that conform
                                                                                          to a schema established by the IHO
                                                                                          to facilitate international shipping) are
                                                                                          available at the appropriate scales for
                                                                                          Africa. However, it must be stressed
                                                                                          that the vast majority of these charts
                                                                                          date to colonial times and should be
                                                                                          used with extreme caution.

                                                                                          Looking at the availability of electronic
                                                                                          navigational charts (ENCs) (those
                                                                                          charts that when used in an Electronic
                                                                                          Chart Display and Information System
                                                                                          (ECDIS) meet the chart carriage
                                                                                          requirement set forth in SOLAS),
                                                                                          offshore passages are partially covered
                                                                                          but, again, these electronic charts
Fig. 5: Electronic navigational chart (ENC).
                                                                                          are usually digital versions of old,
                                                                                          frequently colonial era, paper charts.
                                                                                          There is virtually no ENC coverage
                                                                                          for coastal passages, approaches to
  African states have signalled intent         phase II capability – is important         ports and harbours. The conversion
  to form a NHC but few have actually          to the development of an effective         of the existing coastal, approach and
  convened these committees and their          hydrographic service. It also represents   harbour charts to ENCs is problematic
  effectiveness has yet to be determined.      a significant investment in manpower,      and would, in most cases require new
                                               training and equipment. For this           surveys. Most African states do not
  Attaining a full phase I capability, to be
                                               reason, in the early development of        have the capacity to perform these new
  able to collect and disseminate nautical
                                               a state’s hydrographic capability this     surveys without substantial assistance.
  information necessary for safety of
                                               phase may best be accomplished
  navigation and to keep charts and                                                       Status of hydrographic surveys
                                               through bilateral agreements with other
  publications up-to-date, is an essential
                                               states or through outsourcing to private
  first step in developing a hydrographic                                                 The conducting of hydrographic surveys
                                               survey companies. It is, however,
  capability. SOLAS V requires the                                                        with modern equipment and techniques
                                               important to train and exercise a
  prompt reception and redistribution of                                                  to the standards set by the IHO is a
                                               cadre of government personnel to
                                                                                          time-consuming and resource-intensive
  critical safety of navigation information    administer such outsourced activities.
                                                                                          process. Substantial advances in depth
  as nautical information that is not kept     As the hydrographic capability matures
                                                                                          sounding and positioning have occurred
  up-to-date can quickly become useless        the ability to conduct at least limited
                                                                                          in the last two decades; therefore,
  if not hazardous. Few African states         coastal and offshore projects should be
                                                                                          surveys conducted before the 1980s
  have fully attained this capability.         pursued.
                                                                                          should be reviewed and are probably in
  The ability to conduct coastal and           A phase III capability is signified        need of updating. The majority of the
  offshore hydrographic projects – a           by the ability to publish, in-house,       surveys of coastal African states are in

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                                                                                                                      economic development, large numbers
                                                                                                                      of coastal African states require
                                                                                                                      significant assistance in building
                                                                                                                      the capacity to provide the mariner
                                                                                                                      with adequate nautical information
                                                                                                                      while operating in waters adjacent to
                                                                                                                      their coasts. The IHO is addressing
                                                                                                                      these needs on several fronts. The
                                                                                                                      IHO Capacity Building Committee
                                                                                                                      (CBC) has developed strategies that
                                                                                                                      will ensure the greatest impact from
                                                                                                                      the resources available. The CBC is
                                                                                                                      assessing and prioritising the global
                                                                                                                      hydrographic needs and developing
                                                                                                                      realisable projects for IHO support and
                                                                                                                      implementation. While small, targeted
                                                                                                                      projects are executed from the internal
                                                                                                                      funds of the IHO, larger projects
              Fig. 6: SA Navy survey vessel SAS Protea.                                                               capitalise on existing international
                                                                                                                      partnerships that can secure funding
     need of updating and large areas have                An option for providing an offshore                         from international donor agencies.
     never been systematically surveyed.                  capability is to establish an agreement                     On 21 June 2008, the IHO celebrated
                                                          and communication link with the                             the third annual World Hydrography
     Status of Maritime Safety                            appropriate NAVAREA coordinator                             Day (WHD). The theme for the 2008
     Information (MSI) and Global                         (geographic areas for which                                 celebrations was “Capacity Building, a
     Maritime Distress and Safety                         governments are responsible for                             vital tool to assist the IHO in achieving
     System (GMDSS)                                       navigation and weather warnings) to                         its mission and objectives”. Capacity
                                                                                                                      building is a key priority for the IHO
     The implementation of GMDSS                          transmit important information to the
                                                                                                                      and the WHD celebrations highlighted
     in Africa is extremely poor and a                    mariner through NAVTEX (navigational
                                                                                                                      the IHO’s commitment to supporting
     matter that should be addressed                      telex) or SafetyNET (satellite).
                                                                                                                      technology and skills transfer between
     with some urgency. Most African                                                                                  established and newly developing
                                                          Capacity building in Africa
     states have attained only the                                                                                    hydrographic offices in the interests of
     ability to communicate important                     Clearly supported by the analysis                           enhancing global navigational safety,
     information within their main ports                  of S-55 and understandable from                             maritime trade and protection of the
     with little or no offshore capability.               a cursory examination of global                             environment.

                OPERATOR                   RECEIVER                 AUTOMATIC
                                                                    FUNCTIONS              OPERATOR INPUT OPTIONS      ENHANCED GROUP           AUTOMATED FUNCTIONS
                SELECTION                   518 kHz
                                                                                                                      CALL (EGC) RECEIVER
                                                                                         POSITION                                           POSITION COMPARISON
                SELECT                                    ASSESS Signal quality
                                                                                         ADDITIONAL NAVAREA/METAREA                         ASSESS DATA ERROR RATE
                Geographical area       MICRO-PROCESSOR                                                                   RECEPTION
                                                                                         COASTAL WARNING AREA                               REJECT INADEQUATE/IRRELEVANT
                                            DECODER       COMPARE with memory                                             DECODING
                SUPPRESS                                                                 COASTAL WARNING SERVICE                              MESSAGE
                Unwanted                                                                 FIXED POSITIONS                                    SUPRESS ALREADY RECEIVED
                Optional                                  REJECT                                                           DECISION
                                                                                         ROUTING OF EGC MESSAGES                              MESSAGES
                Information                 PRINTER       inadequate/unwanted messages                                     PRINTING
                                                                                                                                            PRINT DECISION

                                                          Fig. 7: Maritime Safety Information (MSI) communication network.

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     One example of an internal IHO                was held in Mozambique, Maputo in          The General Bathymetric Chart of the
     capacity building project is the West         November 2007. Additional follow-on        Oceans Project (GEBCO), a joint IHO
     Africa action team that has performed         technical visits to assist in survey       – IOC endeavour, has entered into an
     assessments of sixteen West African           prioritisation are scheduled for 2009.     agreement with the Nippon Foundation
     countries’ capacity to provide nautical                                                  to provide a postgraduate diploma and
     information. In the current phase of          The IHO in concert with several
                                                                                              follow-on fellowships in ocean mapping.
     this project, workshops have been             other international organisations
                                                                                              Successful candidates will enhance the
     completed to build awareness of               (i.e. International Maritime
                                                                                              future of ocean mapping and priority
     the obligation these countries have           Organisation (IMO), Intergovernmental
                                                                                              will be given to regions most in need
     to provide such information and to            Oceanographic Commission (IOC),            of building this capacity. To date,
     develop plans that will lead to the initial   International Association of Aids to       candidates from Nigeria and Kenya
     steps toward fulfilling these obligations.    Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities      have completed the educational phase
     Follow-on technical visits and additional     (IALA), etc.) have developed regional      of this program.
     workshops are ongoing.                        capacity building projects that are
                                                   seeking or have received funding from      Beyond the support offered by the IHO
     Similarly, under the Southern Africa
                                                   donor agencies. Examples of these          as an organisation, numerous member
     and Islands Hydrographic Commission
                                                   initiatives include Western Indian Ocean   states of the IHO have bilateral
     as a RHC, assessment visits have been
                                                                                              agreements with African states for
     conducted in southern and eastern             Marine Highway Development in the
                                                                                              hydrographic assistance and training.
     Africa, including the Indian Ocean            Mozambique Channel and the Safety of
     islands. The first MSI training course        Navigation on Lake Victoria Project.

                                                                                              African coastal states must realise their
                                                                                              obligations under SOLAS to provide for
                                                                                              the safety of navigation of mariners
                                                                                              operating in their national waters. This
                                                                                              obligation includes the collection and
                                                                                              distribution of safety of navigation;
                                                                                              the collection and compilation of
                                                                                              hydrographic data; and the publication,
                                                                                              dissemination and keeping up-to-date
                                                                                              of nautical information necessary for
                                                                                              safety of navigation.

                                                                                              Constituting a NHC will assist in
                                                                                              addressing the responsibilities,
                                                                                              authority, communication mechanisms
                                                                                              and coordination of the various
                                                                                              activities concerned with safety
                                                                                              of navigation within the state.
                                                                                              Participation in the appropriate RHC
                                                                                              will allow for the addressing of their
                                                                                              capacity building needs by the IHO
 Fig. 9: MSI training course.
                                                                                              where they can then avail themselves
                                                                                              of the numerous capacity building
                                                                                              activities of the IHO and the bilateral
                                                                                              cooperative arrangements of several
                                                                                              IHO member states.

                                                                                              The improvement of hydrographic
                                                                                              services in Africa requires the
                                                                                              commitment of the coastal states to
                                                                                              adequately resource this endeavour,
                                                                                              but the return in the sustainable
                                                                                              development of the region will be
                                                                                              substantial and enduring.

                                                                                              Readers who are interested in learning
                                                                                              more about the world of hydrography
                                                                                              are invited to visit the IHO web site at

                                                                                              Contact Captain Abri Kampfer, SA Navy,
                                                                                              Tel	021	787-2408,	
 Fig. 10: Hydrographic survey course.                                                         www.sanho.co.za 

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