Experts estimate that South Africa’s oceans has the potential to contribute up to R177-billion to the country’s GDP and create more than one million jobs by 2033. By 2018, Operation Phakisa: Unlocking the Economic Potential of the Ocean had managed to generate R24.6-billion in investment and a total of 6 500 job opportunities through five specified sectors: offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine manufacturing and transport, ocean governance and tourism. We look at the progress made in each of these sectors in this three-part blog series.

What is Operation Phakisa?

Launched in July 2014, Operation Phakisa (meaning “hurry up” in Sesotho) is a fast results and cross-sector delivery programme initiated by government to help with the implementation of the National Development Plan, with the ultimate goal of boosting economic growth and creating employment.

This results-driven approach involves setting clear plans and targets, on-going monitoring of progress and making these results public. Operation Phakisa focusses on bringing key stakeholders together from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society organisations to collaborate in detailed problem analysis, priority setting, intervention planning and delivery.

Marine manufacturing and transport


The focus area is moved from the premise that we have not exploited South Africa’s strategic location, infrastructure and skills base to accelerate growth of this sector. The teams have highlighted a concern that South Africa currently has no registered ships. This is in spite of the fact that each year 300 million tons of cargo moves through our ports in imports and exports.

In addition, 1.2 million tonnes of liquid fuels move along our coast, while the rapidly expanding offshore oil and gas activities require a supporting fleet of vessels. South Africa is also ideally positioned to serve the East-West cargo traffic and the booming African offshore oil and gas industry through marine manufacturing, which includes ship and rig repair, refurbishment and boatbuilding. Despite this competitive advantage, we currently capture only 1% of the global market of ship repair and refurbishment.

A R1.4-billion tugboat project was instituted to increase South Africa’s capacity to build specialised vessels locally. By the end of 2017, the project had produced seven of nine tugboats and created 500 jobs. In addition to this, construction of the KwaZulu-Natal Boatbuilding Park began in the Port of Durban. Once completed, the park will be the largest of its kind in Southern Africa and will serves as a place for repair and production of leisure and commercial boats. The project will have an investment of more than R250-million and is expected to have the ability to produce up to 150 boats annually (these will be used mainly for the export market).

The outer dry-dock caisson at Port of Durban was also recently concluded, improving safety and attracting more ship repair business to Durban. Major developments at other South African ports have also been undertaken, including the refurbishment of the slipway‚ construction of jetties and acquisition of the boat hoist at the Port Elizabeth Port.

This article originally appeared in the 3rd edition of the Vision 2030 publication with the title ‘Operation Phakisa: All hands on deck”.

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