Big plans ahead for the Eastern Cape's ocean economy: DEDEAT

NOVEMBER 13, 2015

Hurry up and head for the sea because that’s where a vast reservoir of economic potential is just waiting to be discovered.

Dubbed Operation Phakisa, a Sotho word meaning 'hurry up', the government plans to tap into the resources of the oceans around South Africa which it believes is the new frontier for the country’s future economic growth.

Inspired by Malaysia’s 'Big Fast Results' programme, Operation Phakisa aims to fast-track the delivery of priorities as outlined in the country's National Development Plan (NDP) and which form part of the Eastern Cape’s Vision 2030 Provincial Development Plan (PDP).

It’s a very big deal. South Africa is bordered on three sides by the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and if islands belonging to South Africa are included represents nearly 4,000 kilometres of coastline.

And the Eastern Cape, with its long Indian Ocean coastline, is a major player in this exciting new initiative launched by President Jacob Zuma.

The national initiative focuses on unlocking this potential, which initially has been estimated will add between R129 billion and R177 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with approximately one million new jobs by 2033.

To put this into some perspective, in 2010 South Africa’s entire GDP was R54-billion and 316 000 new jobs were created.

To unpack the Ocean Economy opportunities, workshops were held in Durban in July and August last year which focussed on four areas to unlock this economic potential. These were:

• Marine transport and manufacturing activities
• Offshore oil and gas exploration
• Aquaculture
• Marine protection services and ocean governance.

Initiatives which are designated for the Eastern Cape include ship repair and boatbuilding for the Port of East London, aquaculture development zones at the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), Coega, Hamburg and Qolora. The aquaculture developments, which will focus on abalone, finfish, mussels and seaweed, are at development stages of implementation.

Furthermore, the Eastern Cape’s marine transport and manufacturing sector has been boosted by the launch of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), a joint initiative between the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and Department of Higher Education.

The institute will promote and coordinate maritime education, skills development and research to support South Africa in harnessing the potential of maritime resources.

A R6.2 million ship engine was handed over to the institute at its launch which will be housed at NMMU’s Engineering Faculty supported by training material and a 3D “walk-through” to help teach maritime engineering students theoretical and practical knowledge in the latest in ship engine design and technology.

The areas with the most potential for maritime economic development are expected to be marine transport and shipping, oil and gas, fisheries and aquaculture and maintenance.