Master plan to inject R10bn into Eastern Cape oceans economy

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The port in Nelson Mandela Bay will be revamped and there are bold plans to turn the Eastern Cape into the country’s leading marine hub
The port in Nelson Mandela Bay will be revamped and there are bold plans to turn the Eastern Cape into the country’s leading marine hub

The Eastern Cape provincial government will next month launch its oceans economy master plan that is estimated to inject R10.4 billion into the provincial economy, thereby solidifying and maintaining its position as the hub of South Africa’s oceans economy.

The master plan, funded by the department of environment, forestry and fisheries and developed with the assistance of the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), aims to push the province’s GDP, currently growing at the rate of 2.8%, to 5% and increase investment from 16.5% of GDP to 27.1% by 2030.

It also aims to reduce unemployment in the province from the current 35.4% to 10%, and reduce poverty from 36.7% to 7.7% by the same year.

In an interview with City Press last week, Eastern Cape economic development MEC Mlungisi Mvoko, said he hoped the master plan would curb future job losses.

He explained that Premier Oscar Mabuyane would launch the Eastern Cape government oceans economy master plan next month.

It comprises four centrepiece documents and these are:

the Eastern Cape government oceans economy master plan
  • The baseline study outlining the rationale for the selection of catalytic projects to grow the province’s economy and create jobs;
  • The research agenda which provides decision-makers with reliable data and updated information to facilitate informed decisions;
  • The strategic road map which sets the 20-year policy trajectory and implementation plan of the oceans economy over the next 20 years; and, lastly,
  • The Bid/Investment book for the mobilisation of resources and investments to fund the oceans economy catalytic projects.

“The main focus,” said Mvoko, “is to grow the GDP, create employment and bring transformation into the industry currently run by white business. This is to meet and surpass the targets set by Operation Phakisa [a delivery programme to help implement the National Development Plan].”

One of the major projects which will make Nelson Mandela Bay the hub for the maritime economy is offshore bunkering (ship-to-ship refuelling) which has seen huge traffic of international ocean vessels docking in Algoa Bay for refuelling and minor repairs en route around the world. It is becoming a lucrative industry which is injecting millions of rands into the Eastern Cape economy.

In the Coega special economic zone is a 440-hectare area earmarked for aquaculture development. This project is estimated to create 5 000 jobs, including medium- to lower-skilled job opportunities for communities close to Coega.

“When fully operational, it is estimated to contribute up to R3 billion to the country’s GDP,” said Coega Development Corporation head of communications and marketing Dr Ayanda Vilakazi.

There is also the liquefied natural gas project that will contribute about 1 000MW to the national grid by converting gas into electricity.

During a recent visit to Algoa Bay to view these ocean economy projects, Deputy Minister of Planning and Monitoring Thembi Siweya, said: “Nelson Mandela Bay is the hub which can unlock South Africa’s oceans economy and I am here to see where national government is required to intervene to speed up these projects so as to meet the goals of the National Development Plan, create jobs and drive transformation.”

Plans to develop the Port Elizabeth waterfront for the construction of a cruise liner terminal are also at an advanced stage, with feasibility studies having now been completed.

Industry experts believe that, with the astute leadership of the young and energetic Premier Mabuyane, who is a strong proponent of rural development and economic transformation, the targets and deadlines set for these projects are not pie in the sky.

To boost the oceans economy skills development, the NMU has established a faculty for maritime training and a maritime college where maritime and marine sciences are offered.

Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, says: “Oceans cover 70% of the planet and are a critical source of oxygen, food, marine resources, employment and subsistence.

“Knowledge of what is being done to conserve the oceans and ensure that the so-called blue economy is sustainably developed, is therefore vital. Our goal of making Nelson Mandela Bay the oceans economy hub of South Africa will be achieved through a bouquet of strategies, including the successful implementation of all these projects envisaged in our oceans economy master plan,” said Mvoko.

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