African SAR development remains vital to IMRF agenda The IMRF has continued to make its presence felt across Africa this year by providing online training courses and resources to nations throughout the continent to improve their search and rescue (SAR) capabilities. Throughout 2022, the IMRF has supported African maritime administrations as part of its ongoing Global SAR Development – Africa project, which the IMRF and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have collaborated together on since 2012. “SAR organisations in Africa often lack dedicated facilities and infrastructure due to a lack of funding. This is sometimes compounded by a lack of coordination between those African SAR organisations that have assets that could be used to support other SAR facilities,” said Commander Phil Bostock, Head of International Liaison at the United Kingdom’s HM Coastguard, which is a full member organisation of the IMRF. For Phil, who ran several of these courses this year, these types of events can often prove invaluable for SAR organisations in Africa. “That’s why it is important that SAR organisations, especially in regions such as Africa, take part in these types of courses. A lot of the challenges they face can be resolved without the need to purchase expensive dedicated SAR units and equipment, and instead coordinating with other maritime SAR stakeholders and better utilising existing resources.” As part of the development project, the IMRF has run a number of online training courses, including SAR Admin and Management and On-Scene Coordinator Courses, to improve the understanding and scope of maritime SAR capabilities, including communications, best practices and equipment. A number of countries from Africa took part in an IMRF training course this year, including Benin, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Seychelles, Togo and Uganda. Phil noted that one key theme that kept appearing throughout each and every course this year was the importance of effective and clear communication between SAR personnel and how working closely with other SAR organisations in the region can help benefit capabilities. “SAR is a ‘team sport’. It requires several agencies and resources to work together effectively to achieve the common goal of saving lives at sea. The only way for a SAR system to be effective is to work closely with all the partners involved and plan, train and exercise together,” he added. IMRF CEO Theresa Crossley noted how technology and online training, which became prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic, have made providing such training opportunities to remote areas of the world far easier. “We’ve been able to deliver online training to more SAR personnel across Africa than ever before, thanks in part to the advances in online communication and learning that we have taken onboard in recent years. I am very pleased with the work we have achieved with SAR organisations in Africa this year and I hope we continue to deliver high-quality training to improve their capabilities further,” she said. The IMRF’s Global SAR Development – Africa project will continue in 2023 and we look forward to updating you about all of our plans and events for next year soon.