Summit outlined need to develop ocean economy


EThekwini hosted the first successful Annual Durban Maritime Summit which is set to become an annual fixture on the maritime calendar.

This summit was the first of what is to become an annual event for the City to discuss ways to educate, empower and inspire Durban residents of the importance of the maritime sector in their everyday lives. It also importantly showcased the investment opportunities in the maritime sector in Durban that can be explored.

Speakers readily embraced the theme of the summit by motivating stakeholders across the public and private sectors, the port and the City to collaborate to make Durban a Smart Port City.

Welcoming a host of delegates, Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Economic Development and Planning Committee, Cllr Nomvuzo Shabalala, shared the City’s vision to promote and grow the City’s maritime industry and Durban’s ocean economy. This would be done in line with Operation Phakisa Principles and the KZN Provincial Growth and Development Plan. This would position Durban as a Smart Port City in the global competitive maritime market.

The ocean economy is an untapped source to grow the economy and create jobs and Operation Phakisa, which seeks to unlock strategic value through growing the marine sector, would be the stepping stone to realising this.

“Durban continues to serve as a regional trade hub for many countries in Southern Africa and the potential for this role to be used to diversify and expand the local economy in the areas of trade, manufacturing and logistics should be highlighted,” Shabalala said.

The keynote address on the opening day of the summit was delivered by Dr. Henrietta Van Niekerk, London-based Director and Global Head of Dry Bulk Analysis at ClarksonsPlatou.

She provided delegates with an overview of the of world maritime trends in 2016 and beyond.

Chairman of the eThekwini Maritime Cluster (EMC) Zeph Ndlovu, in his opening address, said that the inaugural Durban Maritime Summit was intended to take charge when it came to plotting a course for the maritime industry.

He said the EMC’s objectives were to benchmark the value chains of cargo moving through ports and to improve efficiencies and competitiveness and education and training for the maritime industry while enabling talented people to enter the industry.

Other aims include fostering the growth of small and medium sized businesses in the industry as well as the transformation of the industry generally to improve maritime safety, health and environmental management while fostering the development of ship repair and boat and ship building sectors, he said.

This offered good opportunities for employment creation while promoting the eThekwini maritime industry locally, nationally and on a global platform.

The need for skills development, the challenges and opportunities surrounding ship building and maintenance and the provision of bunkering services, enterprise development and maritime security was highlighted on the first day of the summit.

On a positive note it was also agreed at the summit that the port of Durban was a strategic national resource. The port manages around 4 000 vessel calls a year. This as ships become larger which equates to around 8 000 vessel movements. It manages some 87 million tons of cargo a year with 68 percent of the country’s containerized cargo and 520 000 new vehicles for export and import coming through the port.

“Durban Port is the biggest port employer in South Africa and a major employer in Durban. We employ around 20 000 people and are a substantial contributor to the city and the economy of the city contributing as much as 20 percent of the local GDP,” Ndlovu said.

The second day of the summit delivered clear proposals that would take both the City and the port closer to achieving the goals of the KwaZulu-Natal Integrated Maritime Strategy (KIMS). These were the result of robust debate and discussions between delegates and were divided into five categories namely maritime enterprise development, maritime training and skills development, sustaining a smart port city, marine manufacturing and maritime security.

Keynote speaker on the second day of the summit, Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga, said although long overdue, the summit came at a time when South Africa was faced with some of the harshest economic conditions recorded in the past 50 years.

However, she said, Durban was the crown jewel of the South African port system and remained the gateway to the markets of the SADC region, contributing more than half of the total port revenue and seeing 57 percent of all container cargo and 73 percent of all vehicle trade going in and out of its waters.

Specific business development opportunities for both big and small business identified by Chikunga include the new jet-ski game fishing offering off the beaches of Ballito as well as the construction of the new cruise terminal in Durban.

She said Operation Phakisa continued to grow in leaps and bounds. “The aquaculture initiatives continue to attract domestic and foreign investment into its ever growing list of initiatives. The close link between Durban and the coastal life means that the coastline also has great potential for growing South Africa’s farmed protein output and reducing its reliance on wild capture fishing over time.”

Speaking at the Durban Maritime Summit’s networking cocktail evening MEC for Economic Development and Environmental Affairs Michael Mabuyakhulu noted that KIMS had been created as a practical and integrated roadmap for the KwaZulu-Natal maritime industry.

Its strategic framework is founded on four strategic goals which are:

  • Increasing competitiveness through infrastructure development and integrated spatial planning and cost reduction. This is the development of world class, efficient infrastructure and similar technologies, integrated and concerted spatial planning taking into account the port cities and reducing the overall cost across the supply chain.
  • Promoting sectoral development through expansion of marine sub-sectors. This refers to the development and growth of the various marine subsectors, marine manufacturing, oil and gas, tourism and aquaculture amongst others.
  • Enhancing enterprise development through the promotion of small business, BBBEE and the provision of funding.
  • Developing human resources through education, skills development and training and knowledge development.

Delegates also had the opportunity to tour the Port Container terminal or Millennium Tower. 

The second leg of the event saw the start of the interschool’s Keelboat Regatta which took place over two days. It culminated with a prize-giving which took place concurrently with Sail Africa’s annual prize-giving. The regatta showcased the Port of Durban as a Maritime recreational and educational centre.


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Issue 68