Investment Into Phakisa Ocean Economy Can Unlock Africa’s Maritime Industry


It was revealed on 24 February 2016 during South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech that as part of the ongoing Phakisa oceans economy initiative, a ZAR9 billion investment in rig repair and maintenance facilities at Saldanha Bay is planned  and work has begun on a new gas terminal, oil and ship repair facilities in Durban, South Africa.

Frederick Jacobs, Maersk South Africa (Pty) Ltd Chairman, welcomes this news as it will ultimately fast-track the development of the local maritime sector, and will assist in boosting trade going forward.

Phakisa oceans economy projects are expected to contribute more than ZAR20 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2019.

Phakisa oceans economy forms part of Operation Phakisa, an initiative which focuses on fast-tracking solutions to promote investment in areas such as mining, the oceans economy, health and education.

“South Africa is uniquely bordered by oceans on three sides – east, south and west, with the inclusion of Prince Edward and Marion Islands in the south. With its nautical zone far exceeding the country’s land mass and the coastline stretching approximately 3924km, the ocean’s economy has vast potential to achieve the growth and job creation needed to grow the economy and reach our economic goals. Ocean transport is one of the most efficient and cost effective forms of cargo transportation globally, with approximately 90% of world trade transported by sea, which is why it makes good sense for South Africa to invest in the maritime sector to improve GDP growth.”

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“Initiatives have already been developed to accelerate growth in the maritime sector across three categories: infrastructure and operations; skills and capacity building; market growth to accelerate sector growth. Operation Phakisa is estimated to have the potential to result in a significantly positive impact on the economy overall going forward, as long as free competition and public – private partnerships are embraced by all parties.”

Jacobs says that the maritime and manufacturing plans are underway, with the upgrading and redevelopment of some small harbours in Gansbaai, Saldanha Bay, Struisbaai, Gordons Bay and Lamberts Bay, as well as the identification and proclamation of new harbours and their integration with national coastal projects. He says that all of these projects will unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s coastline.

“In order to boost the ocean’s economy, more sea personnel will be required to cope with the increasing demand that Operation Phakisa will bring with it. This highlights the need for ongoing maritime education and training in South Africa to ensure the sustainability of a profitable maritime industry. Training facilities which the Maersk Group support, include the South African International Maritime Institute, South African Maritime Academy (SAMTRA) and Lawhill Maritime Centre, providing extensive training, administrative support and fundamental knowledge about safety at sea.”

He adds that the government has established the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in Nelson Mandela Bay, which will coordinate skills and capacity building activities for all Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy initiatives. He says however that active involvement from private shipping companies is pertinent, such as the provision of training facilities which Maersk Line and Safmarine have assisted the institute with.

He further notes that Operation Phakisa’s focus areas will have a knock-on effect on one another.

“The mining Operation Phakisa focus area for example, which aims to drive the mining industry forward, will also aid the growth of related cargo volumes in the maritime transportation sector for mining exports.”


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