The South African maritime industry needs better structures and collaborative efforts

The South African maritime industry has considerable opportunities to capitalize on; however, it is essential that a concerted effort is undertaken by all stakeholders to ensure that the issues facing the sector are addressed and circumvented, speakers said during a question and answer session hosted by the industrial organization the Maritime Business Chamber on 9 February.

Board member of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (Wista) Nomcebo Msibi said one of the issues to be addressed was for ports to be more efficient and effective. Current barriers include infrastructure, technology, safety and security, and competing corridors.

She pointed out that the country’s maritime industry must find its specialty, that is, decide whether it wants to be a port country or a shipping country; and that he must be aware of his competition in whatever space he chooses to enter.

Vuka Marine Maritime Group Director André Millard stressed that the country must regain its status as a leading international maritime player, particularly in international maritime transport, which he says he has allowed to slip away.

He highlighted tremendous opportunities by 2030, and said government and industry must work together to align interests and create a globally competitive environment to enable this.

Millard also recognized the country’s strength in seafarers, who he said would be the cornerstone for the growth of the maritime industry.

He called for targeted interventions to begin laying the groundwork for them to operate competitively and deploy globally and become meaningful presences in the global maritime space.

While he said his outlook for the maritime industry was ultimately positive, he noted some frustration at the lack of progress, with measures identified last year still not being implemented. Therefore, he called for decisive action.

Promoter of skills and knowledge, the CEO of the South African International Maritime Institute Odwa Mtati highlighted the need for continued publicity of the sector, given that it was nascent and competed with other sectors in the country.

He expressed hope that the Oceans Master Plan, which was being developed, would help bring all industry processes together into a single voice and collaborative agenda.

Independent maritime consulting firm President of the Elekhom Commandant group Tsietsi Mokhele reiterated the need to rationalize the sector, taking it out of its current fragmentation.

In this regard, he commended efforts such as Operation Phakisa, which has enabled maritime transport to become a unique sector, which could then help demonstrate the impact it has on the whole economy. .

He stressed the need for the sector to be a significant contributor to the country’s economy and for the sector to develop performance measures linked to the national economy, allowing it to become more relevant.

Mokhele also underlined the need to approach vocational training in a coherent way, as its contribution was now wrongly measured as very low, when in fact it contributed to a number of sectoral authorities in education and training.