Stimulus packages come under focus for maritime economic sector: Presidency

DSC_8461Port Elizabeth: 09 February 2020

Tracking down a set of stimulus packages earlier announced by government, and the revival of an inter-ministerial committee focused on South Africa’s maritime economic sector are among key issues to be pursued in the short term, according to Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya.

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Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) Projects Focus: Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya (centre) flanked by (Left) Eastern Cape MEC for Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and (Right), Deputy Minister of Public Enteprises, Mr Phumulo Masualle during their visit of maritime economic investment projects in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on Wednesday, 05 February 2020

This, she pronounced on at the end of a whistle-stop visit to the Eastern Cape this past week along with Public Enterprises Deputy Minister, Mr Phumulo Masualle, to make an assessment of impacts as well as identify gaps in economic and investment programmes under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched in the area.

In their company were senior officials of the Eastern Cape government, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Nelson Mandela Bay local government officials, leaders of business, and others.

The projects visited included the fledgling bunkering services recently established off-shore in the precinct of the port of Port Elizabeth, the planned relocation of a fuel tank farm and a manganese ore dump currently settled at the port of Port Elizabeth, as well as energy generation investment projects currently underway at the Coega Industrial Development adjacent the Ngqurha deep water, also near Port Elizabeth,

The Deputy Ministers also utilised the opportunity of their visit to meet leaders of business in the maritime economic sector with direct and indirect interest in the operations, as well as aspiring and established small businessmen.

The visit took place amid varied concerns involving, on the one hand, groups of  environmentalists in the area worried about the possible highly negative impacts of the new bunkering services to the environment, while on the other hand, small business fears of being overlooked for business opportunities now arising from the bunkering services.

Reporting on their observations after visiting the projects on Wednesday morning, Ms Siweya described the developments as showing good progress while acknowledging the challenges faced by some both in terms of concerns of possible environmental threats as well as difficulties faced by investors and business in general in the sector.

Matters of express concern raised, she said, revolved around poverty of legislation governing the new bunkering services, but also shipping especially terms of tax legislation, and the apparent absence of financial support and incentives to encourage investment in the sector. In addition, constant interaction between government, business and civil society to ensure proper alignment was crucial to success, she said.

Ms Siweya said the country’s maritime economic was among sectors identified under the National Development Plan (2030) as key to economic development and expansion and deliberate focus on it was necessary.

To this end, an inter-ministerial committee established in 2015 and which had since become dysfunctional would be revived, In addition, she said, it had become clear that there was a need for financial support of businesses in the sector in the form of a maritime fund.

In this regard, she said: “In 2018, the President spoke about a stimulus package, and there were departments that received stimulus packages. We are going to follow up on that to establish how far they are… what has been done with the funding.”

For Ms Siweya’s full remarks on this and various other matters, click on the video below.

Meanwhile, at the imbizo attended by no less 150 people at a venue located adjacent the Coega Development Zone, leaders of business in the maritime sector as well as aspirant business people wasted little time expressing their displeasure on numerous challenges which they face and towards which they felt government was failing them.

For a full perspective on the proceedings, invest time on the following video. It is about an hour long but goes a long way in depicting the exchanges as they happened.

Key highlights include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi (video: 55th minute) revealing for the first time in public, the enmvisaged establishment of a dedicated fund in the Nelson Mandela Bay to both fund expenses towards environmental preservation (in the case of an oil spill from bunkering services) as well as  support small and medium businesses operating in the sector.

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Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) interventions under spotlight in Eastern Cape

DSC_08724 February 2020

Economic interventions currently being implemented under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative in the province of the Eastern Cape come under focus on Wednesday when three Governtment deputy Ministers and the provincial government descend in Port Elizabeth where the assessment will occur.

Leading the government delegation is deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya accompanied by Deputy Minister of Public Enteprises (formerly Eastern Cape Premier) Mr Phumulo Masualle, Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs & Tourism Mr Mlungisi Mvoko, senior management of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as well as Nelson Mandela Bay local government officials.

Specific focus for assessment will be on projects currently under development in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan area, precisely at the port of Port Elizabeth as well as the Coega Industrial Development Zone adjacent the city’s second and newest ports: the port of Ngqurha.

These include the fledgling bunkering services recently introduced off shore near the port of Port Elizabeth, initiatives by the TNPA including the planned relocation of the manganese ore and oil tank farms from the port of Port Elizabeth to the Coega IDZ near Ngqurha, as well as acquaculture and energy related investment projects earmarked or already underway in the zone.

An event programme for Wednesday indicates that the ministerial visit to these projects is intended to “assess the progress and impact made by projects under the Operation Phakisa {Oceans Economy) delivery lab and get a sense of the needed sustainable interventions to exising challenges. {It is also to) “visit other Oceans Economy projects identified as having a potential of unlocking economic growth and address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.’

The programme will also involve an afternoon session for a business community ‘imbizo” during which the Government officials will address and engage with the local business community.

According to the programme, the imbizo is intended to; “engage the business community on existing opportunities in supporting and partnering with government and (for government to) gain an understanding of the challenges experienced by the business community with a view of identifying possible solutions.”

The day’s programme starts at 6am with an offshore visit of the bunkering services followed by a visit of the Coega IDZ projects, afterwhich the gathering for the imbizo takes places shortly after lunch. The event is scheduled to end at about 5pm on Wednesday.

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SA minerals mining industry,Treasury commit to aid efforts to boost domestic shipping development: SAMSA

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Some of the participants at the first South African Shipping Industry Workshop organised by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria on Tuesday, representing trade cargo ship owners, mineral resources mining, policy makers as well as regulatory authorities directly involved with sectors impacting the shipping sector.

Pretoria: 31 August 2018

Efforts by the South African government to hasten the pace of developing the country’s ocean transport sector and precisely through rapid growth in registration of more cargo carrying vessels under the country’s flag, took yet another positive step forward this week following to a historic agreement between shipping owners, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Mineral Resources Council of South Africa to enter formal discussions.

The development came about during the first formal South Africa Shipping Industry Workshop organized by SAMSA and held at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria on Tuesday. Participants included representatives of various Government institutions and departments inclusive of transport (DoT), mineral resources (DMR), Trade and Industry (DTI) Treasury, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as well as private sector ship owners and the minerals industry representatives under the Mineral Resources Council of South Africa (MRCSA).

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Ms Selma Schwartz-Clausen. Senior Manager: SAMSA

It was the first of a series of workshops planned by SAMSA for the country’s shipping subsector.

According to SAMSA, the issue focused consultations with directly affected and or interested role players in South Africa’s shipping transport subsector both in the private and public sphere, along with important current and potential contributors in the value chain, are an effort to hasten the pace of development of shipping ownership in South Africa to address a range of socio-economic development matters.

These include transformation in the sector through actual increased ownership of shipping vessels under the South African flag by a diverse group of people, increasing the share of rendered services in the subsector, as well as enhance opportunities for maritime skills development.

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Mr Andrew Millard. Director: VUKA Marine

Of the country’s minerals mining sector in particular, according to Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer of SAMSA, the drive to draw the sector into the fray comes against the backdrop that much of South Africa cargo for trade export – estimated at 300-millions tons per annum valued at about R110-billion – comes from the sector.

This, he says, is particularly true of manganese and iron ore as well as coal.

Yet, of about 13 000 trade cargo vessels reporting at South Africa ports to deliver imports and ship out local produce annually, only less than a handful of vessels registered under the country’s flag are participating, a clear indicator, he says, that the local economy is barely benefitting its own people through the shipping business as hugely as it could.

This he says, is inconsistent with both country’s National Development Plan (NDP) as well as other socio-economic development needs.

He said while by law, the Government could stipulate what it considers an equitable share of cargo for locally registered ship owners and has occasionally been encouraged to do so, SAMSA felt it prudent to rather first give opportunity for engagement with all stakeholders in discussions and persuasion towards a shared common goal.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Chief Operations Officer: SAMSA

Speaking of Tuesday’s first workshop in the series he said:  “We thought it would be proper for us to get this small grouping of people just so that we begin find that one value proposition for South Africa Inc. We chose stakeholders within the bulk shipping industry such as the cargo owners and ship owners as well as policy makers and regulatory authorities.

“The intention was to find all the impediments in the subsector so that we can move on to find out what it is that we need to do to extract maximum value for the South African economy.

“This is the first of a series that we plan to hold with all role-players in the shipping industry, the next being that involving liquid bulk and also general cargo.

“I am pleased to say that the initiative was indeed worthwhile as we have now agreed with the Minerals Resources Council of South Africa for the first time ever to enter formal engagement with their members about this, but also Treasury committing to a process to clear out all the remaining tax issues affecting the shipping subsector,” said Mr Tilayi.

Meanwhile, in yet another positive development, Mr Tilayi confirmed that the South African Ship Registry could see more vessels registered – with at least two more before the end of 2019. This latest edition would bring to about half-a-dozen ships in the registry, with three others likely to come onto the group early in the new year.

For more on this as well as the views of one of South Africa’s newest ship owner, Thuso Mhlambi, financial director at Linsen Nambi Bulk Services, click on the two videos below (3 and 2 minutes respectively).

Video 1: Mr Sobantu Tilayi

Video 2: Mr Thuso Mhlambi

More videos of the actual discussions on Tuesday will be place on this blog soon.

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