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Netherlands show confidence in South African maritime cluster

Damen Shipyards Cape Town facilities.The Netherlands has pledged its support to the South African maritime sector this week, with the Netherlands Consulate General and Damen Shipyards Cape Town hosting a Maritime Day.

The Dutch Vice Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Guido Landheer showed economic confidence in South Africa on Tuesday, when he addressed a maritime contingent that included the newly formed Western Cape Maritime Cluster (WCMC) and other industry stakeholders. His visit comes as a follow-up to the Water Trade Mission that took place at the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race Cape Town stopover.

The Western Cape Maritime Cluster comprises private companies in the industry committed to growth in the sector. It is a newly constituted non-profit, voluntary organization that aims to provide support and build a sustainable Western Cape Maritime Industry. The initiative is supported by the Netherlands Government through its national campaign #cocreateSA and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

“The Dutch share a long legacy of doing business with South Africa, and Cape Town has particularly shown great consistency in sustaining this relationship,” he said.

The Minister pledged his country’s commitment in ensuring South Africa’s Green Economy and transformation is given priority.

Rashid Tofey, Deputy Director General for Economic Development and Tourism for Western Cape Government, welcomed the sentiment saying that government simply does not have the capacity to build alone.

“We need initiatives like that of the Western Cape Maritime Cluster to pick up the pace in building out nation, and it is indeed encouraging to see global involvement to that end,” he said.

Operation Phakisa remains high on the presidential agenda with the objective being to unlock the oceans economy.

Phakisa holds open an opportunity to create new industrial and service industry value on a grand scale. In 2010, what has come to be called the ocean economy was worth about R10 billion, according to estimates. By 2020 that should double.

Benny Bhali, Chairman of the Western Cape Maritime Cluster and executive of sales and marketing at Damen Shipyards Cape Town, looked forward to an integrated approach to developing the Maritime business.

“We need to make a concerted effort toward Enterprise Development and the Cluster is mandated to incubate Maritime professionals from a grassroots level,” he said.

Bhali said the Ocean was full of opportunity and Cape Town is ideally positioned to drive growth.

“Maritime has the potential to provide new opportunities for SA’s talented youth population to explore the Ocean’s economy as a part of their professional futures. The Netherlands mission in South Africa recognises the significant value in investing in skills development and is proud to be a partner in this initiative,” said Sebastiaan Messerschmidt, Netherlands Consul General.

In support of the Operation Phakisa agenda, the Consul also sought to highlight career and skills development opportunities in the maritime sector to underprivileged youth from township schools in the Western Cape. It will also host a further round of collaboration on the development of the business model for the Western Cape Maritime Cluster.

In a bid to introduce youth to the maritime industry, fifty high-performing students from the top performing underprivileged high schools in the broader Cape Town were invited to Maritime Day earlier this week. Together with a tour of the harbour, they attended sessions and workshops run by colleges and tertiary institutes in the sector as well workshops on the career opportunities for young professionals in the industry.

Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) BBBEE Transformation and ESD Manager, Eva Moloi told learners that the time is now to look into the future of the Maritime Industry and think of their goals.

“Take the necessary steps to achieve the future that you envision for yourself. The information provided to the students today will illustrate the endless opportunities that are available in the Maritime Industry. The Maritime Industry in South Africa is growing and we hope that the students here today will realize that it presents an exciting career path,” she said.



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