Jacob Zuma launches ocean exploration effort to boost economy

2014-07-19 16:03

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President Jacob Zuma announced plans to explore parts of the ocean to find economic potential that could contribute to the country’s GDP.

“Four priority sectors have been selected as new growth areas in the ocean economy, with the objective of growing them and deriving value for the country,” he said today in Durban at the launch of Operation Phakisa.

“These are marine transport and manufacturing activities, such as coastal shipping, trans-shipment, boat building, repair and refurbishment; offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture; and marine protection services and ocean governance.”

Zuma said the vast ocean space remained relatively unexplored.

“We chose the ocean economy with good reason. SA is uniquely bordered by the ocean on three sides – east, south and west.

“With the inclusion of the Prince Edward Islands in the southern ocean, the coastline is approximately 3 924km long.”

Zuma said it would explore maritime transport and manufacturing to secure the benefits of the growing volumes of cargo handling, sea and coastal shipping and support transport activities such as storage and warehousing.

“In addition, SA can utilise its location and expertise to increase its share of the global marine manufacturing market, including ship-building and repair, rig repair and refurbishment or boat-building,” he said.

“Against this backdrop, the aspiration of this workstream is to grow the marine transport and manufacturing sector over the next five years, to increase the contribution to GDP and multiply the number of jobs in SA.” Zuma said offshore oil and gas exploration would deal with issues that government had previously tackled.

“The aspiration of this workstream is to further enhance the enabling environment for exploration of oil and gas wells, resulting in an increased number of exploration wells drilled, while simultaneously maximising the value captured for SA,” he said.

Aquaculture, meanwhile, remained an underdeveloped sector.

“By generating jobs, especially in fish processing and marketing, employment in aquaculture can enhance the economic and social status of individuals in multiple coastal communities.”

Zuma said the ocean could contribute up to R177bn to the GDP.

Teams of experts had already begun preparing its ocean plan.

“Our teams began working here in Durban on July 8 and will continue working until August 15 2014, preparing the action plan for unlocking the potential of the country’s oceans,” he said.

“We are pleased that over 180 delegates from national government departments, provincial departments, civil society, the private sector, labour and academia are participating in the oceans component of Operation Phakisa.”

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