President Jacob Zuma believes the potential of the ocean economy is highly concentrated within marine transport and manufacturing activities such as coastal shipping‚ trans-shipment‚ boat building‚ repair and refurbishment.
He was speaking during his official opening of the inaugural Terminal Operators Conference Africa 2017 (TOC) at the Durban International Convention Centre on Tuesday. The TOC is the only major international exhibition and conference in the world that focuses on how to showcase port and terminal technology operations.
Zuma said it was correct that the conference was held in KwaZulu-Natal — a province with a maritime industry that spans sectors such as freight and logistics‚ ancillary maritime support services‚ tourism and leisure‚ marine energy and fishing‚ aquaculture and mariculture.
The province boasts two of the busiest ports in Africa and the southern hemisphere – Durban and Richards Bay – which have positioned it as a trade gateway into South Africa and the African region.
Zuma said holding this conference in Africa also contributes to promoting and highlight the country’s infrastructure‚ especially its ports infrastructure.
“An efficient port is very important for any country‚ as it acts as a conduit for global and intra-regional trade‚” he said.
He added that over 99% of trade in Africa occurs by sea‚ and countries such as Angola‚ Kenya‚ Nigeria and Mozambique are positioning themselves as global players in trade and logistics.
“Due to the high dependence on external trade‚ productive and efficient ports are critical for Africa’s growth – and to maintain the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative‚” said Zuma.
“To grow intra-Africa trade‚ we need to see many coastal Africa countries investing in their ports and connecting infrastructure to link with inland communities.”
He said due to Africa’s underdeveloped manufacturing capacity‚ the region’s inclination to export raw materials and import finished goods has increased.
“To correct this anomaly‚ Africa needs to develop her manufacturing capabilities and achieve industrialisation.”
He said the conference was in line with South Africa’s foreign policy of contributing towards a prosperous continent through an increase in intra-Africa trade.
“The reality is that the movement of goods‚ services and means of production within the continent is hindered by the lack of sufficient infrastructure. I am leading efforts through the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative to ensure that there is economic connectivity in our continent.”
Zuma added that it was therefore important for Africa to develop her ocean economy further.
South Africa‚ he said‚ was already going this route and promoting its ocean economy through Operation Phakisa‚ which contributed about R60-billion to the country’s GDP in 2015 and accounted for 397‚000 jobs.
“We believe that the future potential of the ocean economy is highly concentrated within the maritime transport and manufacturing activities such as coastal shipping‚ trans-shipment‚ boat building‚ repair and refurbishment‚” said Zuma.
He said the rapid focus on this area could grow the South African economy and create many jobs.
“In fact‚ this gathering takes place at an opportune time‚ when we have just commenced our chairing of the Indian Ocean Rim Association in October. Our focus is to further explore and extract marine resources for the benefit of our people. Thus the blue economy shall contribute to Africa’s development‚ as espoused in Agenda 2063.”