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Eastern Cape Oceans Economy strategies discussed at Rountable meeting

By Liesl Silverman - Aug 15, 2018
Eastern Cape Oceans Economy strategies discussed at Rountable meeting

A roundtable meeting was called upon by the Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, Eastern Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, in order to discuss the Oceans Economy and its impact on the Eastern Cape.

Key stakeholders in the Oceans economy sector gathered at the Nelson Mandela University Ocean Sciences Campus on Tuesday and debated what could be done to improve and develop the Oceans Economy of the Eastern Cape, with the hope of strengthening the economy of the province.

The agenda of the meeting focused on four main objectives, namely- re-interrogating the potential contribution of the Oceans Economy to the Eastern Cape, looking at what Operation Phakisa’s Oceans economy initiative has achieved so far, discussing potential strategies for future projects and lastly outlining a path towards an Oceans Economy Summit for investment and development, to be held in November.

Addressing delegates, Mahlubandile Qwase, from EC Operation Phakisa, outlined and discussed potential development projects that could boost the EC Oceans Economy, focusing on- Aquaculture, Marine Transport and Manufacturing, Coastal Tourism, Small Harbour development, Offshore oil and gas, Marine Protection Services and Skills development.

“When it comes to Coastline Development and Small Harbours, infrastructure needs to be put in place along the Wild Coast, focusing on Coffee Bay and Mbashe,” said Qwase.

Dr Derrick Swartz, form Nelson Mandela University Ocean Sciences Department, said “In order to improve and develop the Oceans Economy we must first focus on the apex priorities and come up with a good economic strategy. We need to include Township economy, Business economy and the Environmental economy”.

“We need to move sluggish government projects forward, get investment and think carefully about which projects will create more jobs in the Eastern Cape. We need two to three major projects for the MEC to campaign for” he added.

In his address, Mabuyane said “We have the power to change our coastal zone, as it belongs to the people of the Eastern Cape. Today we are starting a process of engagement, ideas and proposals. We will also hold meetings in East London and Umthatha”.

At the meeting, there was much talk about a potential oil refinery that could be established at the Coega Special Economic Zone, just outside PE, as well as Transet's Ports Festival, both of which would strengthen the Eastern Cape economy.

There were also many concerns over the refinery and the potential negative impact that it could have on the environment.

Kevin Hustler, Strategic Development Projects at Nelson Mandela Business School, said “Sustainable business and sustainable oceans is important. The rich bio-diversity of the Ocean must be protected. Environmental interests must be balanced with business interests.

Phumla Mkuhlu, an Eastern Cape business woman, said “The shipping Industry is the largest industry in the world, but the money is not getting to the local people in the shipping industry. We don’t want dreams in the sky, we want tangible opportunities”.

“South Africa is now entering the 4th industrial revolution, but we don’t have the technological know-how, how are we going to protect jobs from large international companies” she added.

Image: Left to right- Nhlanganiso Dladla (ECDC), Hon. Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane (MEC), Prof. Sibongile Muthwa (Vice chancellor of NMU), Dr Derrick Swartz (NMU Ocean Sciences).