1st Annual Ocean Economies Southern Africa Conference report

The Intelligence Transfer Centre, a Conferencing and Training company based in Randburg proudly hosted the 1st Annual Ocean Economies Southern Africa Conference, 21 & 22 August 2018, Durban Country Club


The conference sought to further educate on the economic drive found within the oceans and maritime activities and how these areas are key to sustaining ocean health. The gathering also highlighted SA Ports efficiency and activities, service delivery through Operation Phakisa, boosting tourism, satellite technology management of natural resources and future ocean economies and possible financial investments. The conference was very well organized and all the speakers and topics was of a very high standard.

The speaker faculty equipped delegates with key information on how relevant stakeholders continue to grow the economy by contributing towards the food, health, energy and transport sectors. Our distinguished representatives touched greatly on opportunities emerging from Africa’s aquatic sphere and achieving blue economies through Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

Transnet National Ports Authority’s Ricky Bhikraj - Executive Manager: Research and Operations spoke on the SA Ports refurbishment’s contribution towards port efficiency. He provided an excellent overview of the role of Transnet i.e. rail, ports, pipelines, and supporting including 18 initiatives under Operation Phakisa i.e. infrastructure and operations, skills and capacity building, and market growth. Ricky also provided an update on Operation Phakisa which was officially launched in October 2014 based upon a specific set of assumptions and projections of GPD growth, job growth, untapping Oceans Economy and Marine manufacturing would deliver the highest economic growth. However, his main message warned that the economic climate and maritime trends have changed significantly since 2014 and hence there is a need to refocus and realign.

The second speaker for the day, Nosipho Sithole – Chief Executive: Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) addressed the importance of promoting women in the ocean sector—a leadership and sustainability case study. Nosipho showed the increasing role played by women in the ocean economy. South Africa is rated 20th in the world for logistics.She suggested reworking the culture from legislation to high performance. She suggested the following solution should include: culture change, training & development pipeline, communication and visibility of opportunities, learning institutions, Sizabantu Centres, social media, ocean economy desk for women and youth, mentorship and coaching.

Sizwe Nkukwana – Program Manager, Operation Phakisa for SAMSA explained their role and mandate which is to support government strategies for economic and social development whilst remaining environmentally and economically sustainable. The maritime policy imperatives and goals are to ensure safety of life and property at sea; pollution prevention; Develop Maritime Awareness and to contribute to the release of the full potential of the maritime industry; and modernise SA Shipping Administration (SAMSA). Mr. Nkukwana presented Africa as a land of opportunity. The strategy aims to foster more wealth creation from Africa’s oceans, seas and inland water ways by developing a thriving maritime economy and realizing the full potential of sea-based activities in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Bowman Gilfillan’s, Trudie Nichols — Partner addressed the growing economies of towns through Industrial Development Zones topic. Trudie unpacked the purpose, policy and strategy of special economic zones (SEZ) and Industrial Development Zones (IDZ). They are economic development tools to promote national growth and export to attract targeted foreign and domestic investments and technology. They are growth engines towards government realising industrialisation, regional development and employment creation. Special economic zones have an economic impact on nearby towns which include upgrading of roads, improved transport systems, and easier access to export markets.

Acting CEO, Trade & Investment KZN (TIKZN) Mr. Nevillle Matjie discussed the future of ocean economies and possible financial investments elements. Neville concluded by identifying that a review of the KwaZulu-Natal Export and Investment attraction strategy and innovation strategy needs to be conducted.

Pat Moodley—Regional Manager: KZN Regional Office, IDC looked at the Financial opportunities in the Ocean Economy—offering an IDC perspective.

Pat explained that the IDC is a self-financing national development finance institution whose primary objectives are to contribute to the generation of balanced, sustainable economic growth in Africa and to the economic empowerment of the South African population, thereby promoting the economic prosperity of all citizens.

Judy Mann-Lang—Conservation Strategist, South African Association for Marine Biological Research delivered a beautifully illustrated presentation which reflected her passion for marine conservation. Judy has focused her career on helping people to care for the oceans. In this regard Judy has run many training courses on marine topics for groups ranging from rural mussel collectors to marine protected area managers in various locations along the eastern seaboard of Africa. She concluded her presentation by emphasizing the critical need for marine conservation education and awareness especially at the school levels. The future of the planet is in the hands of the youth and they need to be prepared to take on this responsibility.

The second day of the conference started off with a presentation from Mr. Humbulani Mudau—Chief Director: Science & Technology, Department of Science and Technology who unpacked Operation Phakisa and its contribution towards national priority sectors. Humbulani’ s presentation focused on why South Africa’s National Space Programs are essential for the African Space Program. He pointed out that the 21st century presents significant challenges to humankind.

Amal Khatri—Executive Director: Space Program Division, South African National Space Agency expanded on Humbulani’ s presentation. He spoke on the use of satellite technology to manage our natural resources. Amal delivered a fascinating presentation on how to observe the condition of the oceans using sensors, water samples and remote sensing techniques. The colour of the ocean contains latent information on the abundance of the marine microflora (phytoplankton) which is invisible to the human eye but has huge collective impact visible from space. Generally, the higher the concentration of phytoplankton the greener the water. If little phytoplankton is present, then the water will appear blue. Amal concluded by referring to the maxim governing the world’s oceans i.e. “You cannot control what you cannot patrol.”.

Prof Malek Pourzanjani—Specialist Advisor, SAIMI, looked at utilising skills development to contribute towards the country’s effective participation in the blue economy. Prof Pourzanjani explained that the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) is South Africa’s national institute for the coordination and provision of marine, maritime and related education, research and training.

Prasheen Maharaj—CEO, Southern African Shipyards, Shipyards role as Primary Systems Integrators: A Cooperative and Collaborative Approach in Shipbuilding. Prasheen Maharaj facilitated a stimulating dialogue on shipbuilding, shipyards and the ship repair industry. Shipbuilding is very much part of South Africa’s proud maritime tradition which includes two oceans, an immensely long coastline, skilled and dedicated workers and businesses, and a long-proven ability to design, build and operate excellent vessels of many types. Shipbuilding is part of South Africa’s heritage. It is not and should not be viewed as a “dying/dead industry.” South Africa can and will compete successfully with the best in the world in niches and areas that we choose. He identified shipyards based in South Africa and the vessels built in these shipyards.

Director Maritime Services, Tantaswa Cici—, KZN DEDEAT spoke on Putting in place sustainable development goals for increased ocean activities. Tantaswa identified the challenges across the blue economy.

Nomalanga Sokhela—Program Manager: Maritime Industry Development Program, eThekweni Municipality delivered a presentation on Further unlocking ocean activities to boost the tourism sector. The eThekweni Maritme Cluster (EMC) is a top down maritime cluster funded by the eThekweni Municipality to enable the entity to act as a catalyst and facilitator for forging partnerships in the maritime industry development in Durban. EMC is a Not for Profit company (NPC) launched in 2009.

Peter Myles—Founder/Owner Tournet Africa, Chairperson, Nelson Mandela Bay Maritime Cluster spoke on the role of maritime clusters in the blue ocean economy, potential for developing inland waterways, Bulungula Lodge an award-winning coastal community tourism development. Peter Myles presented the role of maritime clusters in the ocean economy. The ocean is a potential driver of growth, jobs, and innovation, with assets of US$2.4 trillion and annual benefits of US$1.5–2.5 trillion. The ocean economy is about 3-5% of global GDP. The oceans have the potential to contribute up to R1 77 billion to the GDP of South Africa and create just over 1million jobs by 2033.

The Intelligence Transfer Centre will be hosting the 2nd Annual Oceans Economies between the 11th and 13th of June 2019 in Cape Town.

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