The IMRF was recently in Cape Town, South Africa, for the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) Africa Regional Search and Rescue (SAR) Workshop, which discussed the latest developments on SAR procedures, techniques and equipment with representatives from five regional maritime rescue coordination centres (MRCCs) in Africa.

The mid-November workshop highlighted recent changes brought about by the modernisation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and new mobile satellite services. New developments have helped enhance maritime safety by providing a more reliable means for ships to seek help when in distress and coordinate rescue operations. 

Attendees included Captain Mohammed Drissi (IMRF Trustee) and Roly McKie (IMRF’s IMO representative), who joined delegates from  Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa; SAR leaders from Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States; as well as representatives from Cospas Sarsat, Iridium, Inmarsat, and the IMO. 

During the event, the IMRF gave two presentations to the full delegation of attendees. Captain Drissi, who is also head of the Moroccan SAR service, outlined the IMRF’s past, ongoing and future activities in Africa, which includes a number of crucial online training courses to improve the understanding and scope of maritime SAR capabilities, including communications, best practices and equipment. He also noted the IMRF’s regular online meetings, training events and conferences that have boosted the capabilities of SAR personnel and organisations across the continent.

Roly then provided an overview of the IMRF and what it does, and then a presentation on Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) and the IMRF’s related web resources, which provides detailed guidance on the planning and coordination of MROs, explaining to delegates that the project was well respected around the world and formed the basis of several SAR organisations’ MRO plans. Delegates were encouraged to engage with the IMRF’s MRO resources and utilise its resources, many of which are available for free. 

The IMO workshop followed the 30th meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)-IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonization of Aeronautical and Maritime SAR, which was also held in Cape Town. The IMRF was also pleased to be a part of that event, during which they submitted five papers for discussion. You can read more about what took part at that event here.

The IMRF’s work in Africa continues to support SAR organisations and personnel across the continent to improve SAR capabilities. In 2023, the IMRF undertook a number of activities across Africa as part of our Global SAR Development programme. These include:

  • Two #WomenInSAR seminars 
  • An On Scene Co-Ordinator’s course, which involved 14 African countries
  • A SAR Administration and Management course, which involved 10 African countries.
  • Two National SAR Training courses for SAR organisations in Congo and Guinea 
  • Two GMDSS Training courses for SAR organisations in Benin and Madagascar

The IMRF will continue to dedicate resources and materials to SAR organisations and personnel across Africa in 2024. Be sure to check out more information on the IMRF’s channels soon.