The Oceans Economy

Operation Phakisa – a broad national strategy to tackle projects that will reap benefits quickly – has a number of priority streams, one of which is the Oceans Economy.

The Oceans Economy is a new strategic opportunity for South Africa.

As part of the Oceans Economy strategy within Operation Phakisa, a unit within the National Department of Public Works has been created, the name of which explains its mandate – the Small Harbours and State Coastal Property Development unit (SH&SCPD).

The key objectives of the Small Harbours and State Coastal Property Development unit are to:
  • attract investment in state coastal maritime
  • infrastructure and properties
  • grow businesses
  • create jobs
  • stimulate economic growth
  • redistribute wealth.

The new unit has four main tasks: it lets out state coastal property for economic development; it manages state coastal properties (including all occupied and vacant Admiralty Reserve, land parcels, buildings, estuaries and unproclaimed harbours); it oversees the maintenance of small harbours and coastal properties and it is responsible for a special intervention programme to repair and maintain 12 proclaimed fishing harbours in the Western Cape.

South Africa is bordered by the ocean on three sides. In 2010 the ocean contributed approximately R54-billion to South Africa’s GDP and accounted for approximately 316 000 jobs. Studies suggest that the ocean has the potential to contribute up to R177-billion to GDP and between 800 000 and one-million direct jobs.

The Small Harbours and State Coastal Property Development project

A series of investment conferences were launched in each of South Africa’s coastal provinces in 2017, introducing the investors community to “Small Harbours and State Coastal Property Development”. A wide range of sectors in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are being targeted for investment.

The scheme aims to attract a minimum of R12-billion in investment proposals, generate over 2 000 job opportunities in the short to medium term and 500 permanent jobs over the long term. The products generated should be viable and contribute to growing the economy, small businesses should have a chance to be part of large-scale manufacturing and construction initiatives, and the regularisation of business activities along the coastal belts will promote increased revenue for local municipalities through the collection of rates and municipal services.

The country’s 2 800 km of coastline already supports many communities and businesses but the potential to increase and improve yields is enormous. At the moment, there are more than 300 businesses leasing state-owned land in sectors ranging from mining, farming and fishing to logistics, leisure and retail. The SH&SCPD unit wants to increase these opportunities in partnership with other national government departments such as National Treasury, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Environmental Affairs, provincial governments, district municipalities and
local municipalities.

Several priority projects have been identified, but the scope for further smaller projects is huge. Much will depend on the initiative of local business people and local municipalities.

The first five priorities identified under the project are:
  • development of the harbour at Port Nolloth, Northern Cape
  • development of the harbour at Port St Johns, Eastern Cape
  • development of a new harbour at Port Edward, KwaZulu-Natal
  • repair and maintenance of proclaimed fishing harbours, Western Cape
  • one priority project per coastal municipality (on Public Works land).

State coastal land and buildings will be available to private-sector investors to achieve any of the following objectives: expand an existing business; create a new business; stimulate the local economy; create new jobs; generate revenue; deepen economic transformation.

Investment proposals will be evaluated on a set of criteria that include:
  • scale of investment
  • projected growth of business and turn over
  • retention and creation of jobs
  • degree of empowerment
  • project revenue
  • appropriateness with regard to zoning
  • commitment to support small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) and localisation.

Local economic development

Economic sectors that have been identified as suitable for local economic development through investment are Education and Training; Renewable Energy; Farming; Fish Processing and Packaging; Food and Beverages; Hospitality; Infrastructure Development; Logistics; Maintenance and Repair (Vessels and Harbour Infrastructure); Manufacturing and Engineering Services; Mining; Pipelines and Pump Houses; Rescue, Safety and Security; Sport and Recreation; Tourism; Transport (Commercial and Leisure); Water and Waste Management.

Business and investment opportunities

The range of sectors and business opportunities available to potential investors into the Small Harbours and State Coastal Property Development project is wide. They include:

  • Water theme parks
  • Fishing and fish processing
  • Fuel supply
  • Special Economic Zones
  • Desalination
  • Energy production
  • Caravan parks/holiday resorts
  • Shipwreck museums
  • Yacht mole facilities
  • Transport (ferries and water taxis)
  • Energy production
  • Public beaches
  • Slipways
  • Warehousing
  • Breweries and distilleries
  • Aquaculture
  • Mariculture
  • Small ship/boat-building
  • Ship maintenance and repairs
  • Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Fish processing factories
  • Offices
  • Tourism
  • Ice-making and supplies
  • Education (Maritime and Aquaculture Training Centres)
  • Renewable energy

Small harbours

Small harbours can play a big role in driving new economic activity.

Small harbours are also important in terms of safety, security and safeguarding the territorial integrity of the South African state.

As a first step in the small harbours programme, 12 Proclaimed Fishing Harbours in the Western Cape were identified and work began on a series of projects to start the revival process: repairing slipways, towing away sunken vessels and dredging. The repair and maintenance project should be completed by March 2019.

Lamberts Bay on the Cape West Coast

Many more creative and value-adding interventions lie ahead, and are expected to be undertaken even in areas that are currently not Proclaimed Fishing Harbours. South Africa’s four coastal provinces have as many as 50 potential and existing unproclaimed harbours. There is a particular emphasis on developing assets beyond the Western Cape, traditionally the home of maritime activity.

The key is to use small harbours to stimulate the local economy. Activities to promote primary maritime activity could include:
  • infrastructure to support fishers: processing, ice production, cold storage
  • infrastructure for boat-building and repair
  • additional berthing and launching facilities
  • new recreational fishing points
  • access to better amenities for fishers.

Business opportunities that might work at a small harbour include ice-making, desalination, yacht mole facilities, water taxis and a variety of tourism ventures.

Tourism could be promoted through relatively simple interventions such as:
  • improved pedestrian access
  • cleaning and maintenance
  • policing
  • stalls or shelters to sell crafts
  • partnerships with developers to develop
  • restaurant, curio shops, retail, maritime/marine museum or wreck museum and accommodation options
  • infrastructure that allows for water recreation and sports.

Steps are being taken to include the country’s small harbours as national assets in terms of the Government Immovable Assets Management Act (GIAMA). DPW (The Department of Public Works) is the custodian of the state’s immovable assets.

Priority projects in the coastal provinces of South Africa

The SH&SCPD unit intends implementing the Spatial and Economic Development Frameworks (SEDFs) for the 12 proclaimed fishing harbours which were completed in 2014 and develop SEDFs for the remaining small harbours along South Africa’s coastline.

An audit of all state coastal reserves needs to be done, and land for aquaculture projects is to be made available for these enterprises. Short-term leases within harbours are also to be converted to three-to-five-year leases so that business owners can have better security of tenure, allowing them to plan and expand.

The 12 existing and Proclaimed Fishing Harbours are all in the Western Cape. Outside the Western Cape, the Small Harbours and State Coastal Property unit has plans in hand for priority projects at nine locations in three provinces:

Follow the links above to view priority projects identified in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Operation Phakisa

Operation Phakisa is a national plan that targets sectors that can best achieve quick returns in terms of growth and job creation. Operation Phakisa falls under the National Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and is aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030.

The plan seeks to get things done quickly. Phakisa mean “hurry up” in SeSotho and is adopted from the Malaysian method of delivering economic transformation, “Big Fast Results”. That operation addressed Malaysia’s key priorities such as poverty, crime and unemployment. It involved setting up clear targets and following up with monitoring process and making the results public. The Malaysian government registered impressive results within a short period.

In the South African plan, there are eight steps. Various knowledgeable and relevant people from the public and private sectors, academia as well as civil society organisations are brought together to collaborate in “laboratories” so there is, for example, a Health Lab, an Education Lab and an Oceans Economy Lab. From these sessions, detailed plans are developed with timelines and delivery dates.

The Oceans Economy has been chosen as one of the key sectors for Operation Phakisa because of the massive opportunity to create value that resides onshore and offshore.

There are five target areas within the Oceans Economy strategy:
  • aquaculture
  • offshore oil and gas
  • marine protection and governance
  • marine transport and manufacturing
  • Small Harbours and State Coastal Property.

Start a conversation with the SH&SCPD unit

Businesses and investors interested in taking up opportunities in the project are invited to contact the Small Harbours and State Coastal Property Development unit of the Department of Public Works.