To support and drive policy change and operational effectiveness in the local industry, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government is establishing a maritime institute, said Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu at the inaugural Durban Maritime Summit on Thursday.
The new institute, which would be located at the Sharks Board, in Umhlanga, would combine environment-related imperatives with addressing unemployment, poverty and skills shortages, as well as transformation.
The institute would also cover the promotion and coordinating of maritime education, skills development and research, as well as fostering innovation to support the development and growth of the maritime industry, while aiming to drive the reduction of bureaucracy that impeded the development of the industry.
Mabuyakhulu said that KwaZulu-Natal’s recently developed Integrated Maritime Strategy (KIMS), aimed at providing a practical and integrated roadmap for the industry’s development, had recommended the formation of a Public Finance Management Act provincial public entity.
He added that the current Sharks Board Act would have to be repealed and a new Act established, and that his department was ready to take this process to the legislature.
Mabuyakhulu further noted that the KIMS, which was predicated on the province’s status as a regional manufacturing and trade hub, had four strategic goals – increasing competitiveness through infrastructure development, integrated spatial planning and cost reduction, promoting sectoral development through expansion of marine subsectors, and enhancing enterprise development and developing human resources.
“The South African oceans, through government’s Operation Phakisa, have the potential to contribute up to R177-billion to gross domestic product, while creating 800 000 to 1-million direct jobs by 2033.
“[We are] in the process of establishing maritime clusters in both the Ugu and uThungulu districts in a quest to ensure the prioritisation of the maritime agenda throughout the province.
“Maritime strategies tailormade for each district that take into account landscapes, demographics, climate, are being developed. These will inform the operations of the respective clusters in unlocking employment and economic opportunities in the respective districts, taking into account the inland waterways,” he highlighted.
He said various other public entities, such as the iThala Bank, Small Business Growth Enterprise and the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Fund, supported the maritime sector financially, while skills development and research through the Moses Kotane Institute and the Sharks Board were ongoing.
He added that his department was undertaking additional projects in the maritime space, such as aquaculture development. Research aimed at expanding fish farming and exporting of fish and fish products to other countries was also under way.
“A feasibility study on catfish farming in the province has commenced. We have negotiated with a tribal authority regarding a lease agreement for Sofoco Fish Farm for the expansion of ornamental fish farming,” he noted.
Mabuyakhulu also said that an oil and gas peer and industry review that would bring together all relevant oil and gas stakeholders to robustly deliberate on developing the oil and gas industry was also under way.