Speaking in Port Elizabeth President Jacob Zuma said more than R17 billion has been unlocked in the national economy since the launch of the blue economy sector of Operation Phakisa less than two years ago.
The initiative, he said during an Operation Phakisa report back in Eastern Cape, has to date also created 4 500 jobs.
A study conducted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University had quantified the value of South Africa’s oceans, which indicated oceans around the country were estimated to have the potential of contributing R54 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and an estimated 316 000 jobs.
Further analysis undertaken in 2013 found that nine sectors of South Africa’s ocean economy could generate an estimated GDP contribution of R129 to R177 billion by 2033 and double the number of jobs estimated in 2010.
On Friday, President Zuma told the crowd at the busy Port Elizabeth port government had learned good lessons in implementing Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy and unlocking private sector investment.
“Where government has made interventions, whether within the policy space or facilitating authorisations and approvals or providing some incentives, it has unlocked private sector investment,” he said.
Government would continue to work hand in hand with the private sector and all its partners and stakeholders to ensure more investments are attracted.
Within the last year and a half, Operation Phakisa’s primary focus had been on implementing mechanisms to systematically clear constraints and blockages hampering the development of these projects, he said.
“Operation Phakisa will also be used to develop rural economies. This we shall do through small harbour development, coastal and marine tourism and aquaculture which is the fish industry,” Zuma said.
An amount of R80 million had been allocated for the rehabilitation and maintenance of proclaimed fishing harbours in Gansbaai, Saldanha Bay, Struisbaai, Gordons Bay and Lamberts Bay in Western Cape.
The establishment of three new harbours in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal would also provide opportunities for local and rural economic development.
In the aquaculture sector, more than R400 million worth of investment, both from the private sector and government, have been committed across ten aquaculture farms in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Northern Cape.
President Zuma also announced the launch of the South African International Marine Institute to be based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality. The initiative facilitates development of the skills and knowledge base required to ensure the success of Blue Economy maritime economic development for Operation Phakisa and the African Union’s African Integrated Maritime Strategy.
Earlier in the day, the President was taken to the re-constructed slipway and lead-in jetties within the Port of Port Elizabeth.
The refurbished slipway will be able to accommodate more vessels. When the development is complete, at least 12 vessels will be accommodated for hull inspection and maintenance as compared to the current two.
President Zuma further unveiled a plaque at the newly-acquired boat hoist. It is the second of its kind in the country.
“This boat hoist has a 90 ton capacity and forms part of the construction of a new slipway. This will ensure the industry is assisted more efficiently than in the past,” said the President.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said Transnet, through Transnet National Ports Authority, continues to play a crucial role in the development of new and refurbishment of existing infrastructure at the ports with the aim of revitalising the ocean economy while creating opportunities for broader economic activity around the ports.
“Through this, opportunities are created for the development of industrial clusters around the various ports across the country. These include the boat building, boat and ship repairs, rig repairs, oil and gas and aquaculture among others. Transnet National Ports Authority has the responsibility of providing access to the land and ports infrastructure for the competing economic activities within the oceans economy,” Minister Brown said.
In the case of the Port of Port Elizabeth, the intention was to create the boat building and boat repairs industries and the composite cluster at the back of the port.
Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle noted that the province boasts 820 kilometres of the coastal line and the ocean is key to the province’s economy.
“Infrastructure projects are beginning to bear fruit in our oceans and we are continuing to build and unlock ocean economy,” he said.
Through the initiatives such as the Coega Development Co-operation as well as East London and Port Elizabeth Industrial Development Zones, the province will continue to take advantage of its oceans to bring about economic development.