#OperationPhakisa: Unlocking SA's ocean economy

2017-10-06 15:51 - Gabi Zietsman
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Cape Town - On Friday President Jacob Zuma reported back on the progress of Operation Phakisa, a project that seeks to develop and capitalise on South Africa's ocean's economy.

This project aims to fast track improvements to create jobs and bolster South Africa's economy, making it a strong competitor in the global marine industry. 

SEE: Cabinet approves marine and coastal plan for SA Tourism

The President opened his address by highlighting what the project is doing.

"Operation Phakisa is being implemented in the ocean economy, in the improvement of clinics, in rolling out information and communication technologies in education as well as in the agriculture, mining and tourism sectors."

According to his report, 4 500 jobs were created and through the government's R15 billion contribution have unlocked R24,6 billion in investment. Most of this investment has gone to ports, boat building and aquaculture.

Tourism

In the tourism sector, six development nodes have been identified in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape. "Our aspiration is to grow a world class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destinations," says President Zuma.

The identified nodes in the mentioned provinces include Durban, the Umkhanyakude District, Port St Johns to Coffee Bay, East London, Port Elizabeth, Port Nolloth, West Coast and finally Cape Town.

This includes the building of a cruise terminal at V&A Waterfront, which will increase the port's ability to dock cruise-liners and thus boost the tourism market. There's also been investments of R660 million at the Cape Town port to address energy demands in the Western Cape.

Through the Blue Flag Beaches Programme, which starts off the season with 62 certified beaches, 200 youth Blue Flag Site Ambassadors have been identified. 122 women and 78 men will be trained in safety, environmental management, infrastructure maintenance checks and environmental education.

"These [marine and coastal tourism destination] will enhance South Africa’s competitive advantages in nature, culture, and heritage, with the potential to contribute R21 billion to the South African GDP and more jobs for our people," adds the President.

SEE: #LoveSA: 62 Beautiful Blue Flag beaches

Protecting our marine resources

Improvements have been made in tracking illegal vessels in SA waters and our Exclusive Economic Zone, including the National Ocean and Coastal Information System which is currently being piloted. Numerous arrests and confiscations have been made in the coastal provinces through coordination from joint operations. 

The marine industry is more equipped to signal early warning signs for red tides and algal blooms that can harm the vulnerable West Coast Rock Lobster industry.

The President also noted the importance of looking after our fish populations. "Our fish resources are becoming more limited and are also being exploited to the maximum. In this regard, promoting the Aquaculture Focus Area has become extremely crucial."

So far 36 aquaculture projects have been established, which include building up small businesses and farming with inland freshwater fish as well.

On the education side a the National Marine Pollution Laboratory has been established at Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape, which analyse the water quality of our oceans.

ALSO SEE: SA's Two Oceans Aquarium joins 100 aquariums in anti-marine litter drive

Various youth development and training programmes were also launched in the sector to grow skills in the industry. Marine subjects were launched in 18 schools in KwaZulu-Natal with help from the South African International Maritime Institute. 

Growing ship building industry

President Zuma announced that the government intends to establish the KwaZulu-Natal Boatbuilding Park in the Port of Durban, will be the largest in southern Africa and will produce 150 boats annually mainly for the export market.

"South Africa has a capacity to build specialized vessels locally," said the President. "It will also accommodate emerging and Black-owned boatbuilding companies and key suppliers."

The Southern African Shipyar so far has built seven out of nine specialised super tugboats which comes from a R1,4 billion project that created 500 jobs. The SA Navy is also looking to build a special survey vessel to map the sea floor, and will cost R1,8 billion.

SEE: Marine and Coastal Tourism strategy set to grow economy, boost tourism

"We have gone quite a distance indeed in unlocking our oceans to find economic value and jobs for our people."

"In his [OR Tambo] memory, let us work together in a true Phakisa spirit and as partners, and build a truly prosperous South Africa, without poverty, inequality and unemployment," concluded the President.

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