President Jacob Zuma. Picture: ANA Reporter

Durban – KwaZulu-Natal’s drive to make waves in the ocean economy will see the establishment of a multi-million rand boatbuilding park at Durban Port’s Bayhead, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
 
Speaking at the Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, Zuma announced that the R250 million project had the capacity to produce up to 150 boats annually, mostly be for export.
 
The park would be part of the existing maritime vessel industrial complex. 

“The boatbuilding sector has long been recognised in our strategic plans as a major opportunity to stimulate new investment, exports and job creation,” he said, adding that the park would be “world class” and used to produce and repair leisure and commercial vessels.
 
“It will be the single largest boat building facility in southern Africa and will accommodate emerging and black-owned boatbuilding companies and key suppliers,” he said.
 
The park would also have a marine skills development centre to provide training for unemployed youth, Zuma said.
 
Zuma’s address was a report back to stakeholders on Operation Phakisa, a programme launched in 2014 that seeks to fast track the National Development Plan in order to boost growth and create employment.

Zuma entered the conference centre to strong applause, accompanied by his wife Thobeka Madiba-Zuma. He was greeted by a phalanx of ministers, including Naledi Pandor, Edna Molewa, Joe Masangwanyi, Mmamoloko Kubayi, Mosebenzi Zwane and others.

Zuma said that over 6 500 jobs had been created through the ocean’s economy segment of Operation Phakisa. 

“Thus far we have unlocked investments totalling R24.6 billion, with a government contribution of R15 billion.”

He said that infrastructure development had been the largest contributor to the total investment in the ocean’s economy, and this came from ports, manufacturing mainly in boat building, aquaculture and scientific surveys in the oil and gas sector.

“From our own analysis, the total ocean sectors contribute approximately 4.4 percent to South Africa’s [gross domestic product] GDP, with the largest contribution coming from the value chains,” he said.
 
“When I visited the Port of Durban, I was impressed that we are building specialised super tugboats at Southern African Shipyards. This is a R1.4-billion project. This is a demonstration of South Africa’s capacity and capability to build specialised vessels locally. Seven of the nine tugboats have already been built as part of this project and around five hundred jobs had been created.

“The South African Navy seeks to build their complex and specialised hydrographic survey vessel to map the sea floor, an investment of approximately R1.4-billion.” 
 
Zuma listed further developments in the Port of Port Elizabeth such as the refurbishment of the slipway and the acquisition of the boat hoist “which made a significant impact in the fishing industry”.

He said in Cape Town the R660-million Burgan Fuel Storage Facility has begun operations “to augment the fuel supply and energy demand in the Western Cape” while the “Cruise Terminal concession to fund, design, build and operate has been awarded to the V&A Waterfront Company in the Port of Cape Town” would increase cruise-liners docking in that port.
 
He said the oil and gas offshore supply base berth had been completed in Saldanha while 14 exploration rights, six production rights and two technical cooperation permits have been issued in the oil and gas sector.

Zuma also said that besides these mega-projects and developments, the development of small harbours along the South African coastline had potential to unlock economic opportunities.
 
He said there were extensive training programmes in maritime related industries taking place across the country, including maritime studies at 18 schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

“We have gone quite a distance indeed in unlocking our oceans to find economic value and jobs for our people. We truly appreciate the contribution of all sectors,” said Zuma.