SOUTH AFRICA: MINISTER WANTS SPEEDY TRANSFORMATION OF MARITIME SECTOR; MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR BLACK PEOPLE

DURBAN, Transport Minister Joe Masangwanyi has expressed his frustration over the slow pace of transformation in the South African maritime sector, calling for more opportunities to be created for black people in the sector.

Masangwanyi says although policy interventions are already helping to transform the industry, particularly in the area of maritime transport, a lot of work still needs to be done to transform the industry to be truly representative of the South African population and to eradicate the legacy of past discrimination and inequality.

Speaking to SAnews, he said the Draft Maritime Transport Policy for South Africa adopted this year seeks to overhaul the industry and to ensure that all South Africans play a role in the oceans economy.

Maritime transport has been identified as one of the priority economic sectors towards unlocking the country's oceans economy by heightening its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creating jobs and employment opportunities for South Africans.

The policy that we have adopted looks at how we can involve communities in maritime business, not only big businesses must benefit. Maritime should not be seen as something that is far-fetched by our people, we want to take maritime to our people for them to be in the mainstream of that economy, Masangwanyi said.

If we talk about radical socio-economic transformation, it should also express itself in terms of ocean economy. We need to determine how we ensure that the coastal communities benefit from this oceans economy we are pushing, the minister said.

He made the remarks on the same day President Jacob Zuma hosted stakeholders at the Durban International Convention Centre where he provided an update on the implementation of Ocean Phakisa oceans economy.

Zuma said since Operation Phakisa was unveiled in 2014, the initiative has unlocked investments totalling R24.6 billion, with a Government contribution of R15 billion. Over 6,500 jobs have been created through the oceans economy segment of Operation Phakisa.

Operation Phakisa is an adaptation of the Big Fast Results methodology that was first applied by the Malaysian Government very successfully in the delivery of its Economic Transformation Programme and the Government Transformation Programme.

South Africa renamed the programme Operation Phakisa, to highlight the urgency with which the government wants to deliver on some of the priorities encompassed in the National Development Plan 2030.

Operation Phakisa is being implemented in the ocean economy, in the improvement of clinics, in rolling out information and communication technologies in education as well as in the agriculture, mining and tourism sectors.

Government predicts that by 2030, the ocean economy will contribute R177 billion to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). So far, R444 million has been invested to create jobs in aquaculture.

Speaking at the gathering attended by several Cabinet Ministers, stakeholders in the maritime and environment sector as well as local business, Zuma said the first implementation of operation Phakisa had focused on unlocking the potential of South Africa's oceans.

We brought together in the Oceans economy project, representatives from government, industry, labour, civil society and academia to collaborate in unlocking the economic potential of our oceans.

The largest contribution to the total investment in the oceans economy was from infrastructure development, mainly in our ports, manufacturing, mainly in boat building, aquaculture and scientific surveys in the oil and gas sector, having been facilitated through Government incentives, said President Zuma.

South Africa is also targeting the ocean's economy as it is one of the key drivers in the Nine-Point Plan to grow the economy, create jobs, transform the economy and attract investment.

In addition, the ocean sectors contribute approximately four point four percent to South Africa's GDP, with the largest contribution coming from the value chains.

Zuma added that government intends to establish the KwaZulu-Natal Boatbuilding Park as part of the maritime vessel industrial complex at Bayhead in the Port of Durban.

The boatbuilding sector has long been recognised in the government's strategic plans as a major opportunity to stimulate new investment, exports and job creation.

The park is planned to be a world-class space for the production and repair of leisure and commercial boats. It will be the single largest boat building facility in Southern Africa.

It will also accommodate emerging and Black-owned boatbuilding companies and key suppliers, President Zuma said.

The project represents an investment of more than R250 million and will have the capacity to produce up to 150 boats annually, mainly for the export market.

The Park will have Marine Skills Development Centre to provide on the job and practical training for the unemployed and youth.

In the Marine Transport and Manufacturing Focus Area, the Port of Durban has seen the completion of the Outer Dry Dock Caisson to improve safety.

The upgraded Durban Dry Dock will be key to attracting ship repair business to Durban.

At the Port of Cape Town, the Burgan Fuel Storage Facility, a substantial private sector investment of over R660 million, has recently commenced operations, to augment the fuel supply and energy demand in the Western Cape.

A Cruise Terminal concession to fund, design, build and operate has been awarded to the V&A Waterfront Company in the Port of Cape Town, which will see an increase in cruise-liners docking in this port and bolster the tourism market.

In the Port of Saldanha Bay, the new Sunrise Energy Liquid Petroleum Gas Facility, through a concession issued by the Transnet National Ports Authority, has also commenced operation.

The construction of the Offshore Supply Base berth at the Port of Saldanha has been completed as part of the establishment of Saldanha Bay as an offshore oil and gas support hub.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK