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Oceans Economy steaming ahead thanks to Operation Phakisa -EDNA MOLEWA

Edna MolewaThe implementation of South Africa’s Ocean Economy strategy is well on track, thanks to Operation Phakisa launched by President Jacob Zuma in 2014.

Contrary to a number of recently carried media reports questioning our progress, the South African government, led by the African National Congress (ANC) continues to register a number of notable successes in the four selected areas: namely Marine Transport and Manufacturing, Offshore Oil and Gas, Aquaculture and Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance.

The Malaysian “Big Fast Results” methodology utilized by Operation Phakisa consists of sequential steps, namely detailed problem analysis, priority setting, intervention planning and finally, delivery.

The drawing up of detailed 3-foot plans was done in collaborative labs between July and August last year, attended by delegates from national and provincial government departments, the private sector, civil society, labour and academia.

During the labs, certain projects were identified for prioritization, with the stakeholder labs identifying major constraints and blockages hampering their development, such as legislative uncertainty, skills gaps, lengthy and bureacratic authorizations procedures, delays in funding flows and infrastructure challenges.

Over the past 12 months the focus has been on implementing mechanisms to systematically clear these blockages in order to reach our medium term (18 – 24 month) targets.

By far the greatest registered success of Operation Phakisa has been the introduction of a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach to inter-departmental cooperation; thereby reducing turnaround times and speeding up decision making and delivery.

The succesful application of the methodology has been evident in the Marine Transport and Manufacturing sector.

As part of the Public Private Partnership Model to finance new Operation Phakisa infrastructure, Transnet and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) are currently evaluating request for proposals (RFP’s) issued last year calling for private operators to design, construct, rehabilitate and develop our ports. Refurbishment and maintenance project has already created 177 construction jobs over the last 12 months.

The first major refurbishment of the Port of Durban in nearly a century is currently underway, and once this five year infrastructure repair project is completed, the port will be able to handle more ships for repair, as well as for shipbuilding.

In a country that has one of the smallest ship repair industries, despite being located along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, Operation Phakisa is steadily creating opportunities for manufacturers and shipbuilders.
Southern African Shipyards (SAS) is currently building nine tugs for Transnet – slated for completion in 2018, which will be used in Saldanha Bay. The South African Navy has also tendered for six patrol vessels to be delivered in the next few years under Project Biro, as well as a large specialist hydrographic survey vessel dubbed Project Hotel.

The unblocking of key constraints in port usage has already unlocked potential investment of R1.25 bn in contracts over a 5-year period for composite catamaran production at the port of Port Elizabeth.

As part of unblocking obstacles to major infrastructure development, the rehabilitation, upgrade and redevelopment of several small harbours (such as dredging and the removal of sunken vessels) is underway. A roadmap has also been developed for the proclamation of new harbours in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

To further enhance the global competitiveness of our shipbuilding and repair supply chain, South Africa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China Shipbuilding and Trading Company (CSTC) to enhance the global competitiveness of our shipbuilding supply chain. The MoU covers technology and skills transfer, and project financing. In terms of this MoU the CSTC will also send a certain number of ships to South African yards every year.

In the Offshore Oil and Gas sector, we are similarly working on the establishment of purpose built infrastructure, and clearing blockages that hamper the development of the strategic projects.

Saldanha Bay has been identified as a potential major oil and gas hub serving the South African and West African markets, as well as a destination for rig and offshore support vessel repairs and maintenance.

To harness this opportunity the port needs to be expanded, and in 2016 work will commence on an offshore supply base, with work on a rig repair facility and Mossgas jetty extension expecting to commence in 2018.

With regards to legislative and policy clarity, the Mineral and Petroleum Development Amendment Bill is now before Parliament, and our integrated and amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process has been streamlined. This will result in previously lengthy authorizations procedures, a deterrent to investment, being sped-up

Two months ago the Department of Environmental Affairs issued the first EIA for Shell South Africa Upstream B V’s proposed exploration drilling off the West coast.

Another EIA was issued earlier this year for the development of the independent R650m Burgan Fuel Storage and distribution facility in Cape Town, that will be officially opened in November.

As part of the ANC-led government’s quest for energy security, phased gas pipeline routes have been identified and route engineering studies partially completed, thanks to the methodology applied in terms of Operation Phakisa. The Department of Environmental Affairs and i-Gas has secured R8m as part funding for the Strategic Environmental Assessment for this phased gas pipeline.

There has also been notable progress in the aquaculture sector, where we have focused in the short term on regulatory reform, financing, skills development and access to markets.

A Draft Aquaculture Bill has been finalised and an inter-departmental authorisations committee established, which has created a more enabling environment.

To date 9 catalyst projects are in process with funding secured from the newly established Aquaculture Development Enhancement Programme (ADEP). Some 521 jobs have been created and committed and the sector has realised private sector investment of R305m with government investment at R105m.

Among the successes we have registered through the application of Operation Phakisa’s methodology in the area of Marine Protection Services – is the commencement of pre-emergency planning in respect of oil spill emergency responses, and the establishment of hazard identification and Incident Management Organization (IMO) protocols.

In addition, operationalising the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC) is almost complete. The IOPC Fund provides financial compensation for oil pollution damage that occurs in Member States resulting from spills of persistent oil from tankers. The Fund is financed by contributions from entities that receive certain types of oil by sea transport.

Whether building new ports, or in training more young South Africans for careers in the aquaculture sector, investor interest in our Oceans Economy has been revitalized through Operation Phakisa.

We as the ANC-led government are Moving South Africa Forward, and despite the predictions of the naysayers, Operation Phakisa – and the Oceans Economy in particular, continues to hold immense potential as a catalyst for the development of our people, and for our country’s economy in general.

Article by EDNA MOLEWA

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