In August 2014, President Jacob Zuma launched Operation Phakisa, a Big Fast Results methodology that brings key stakeholders together in a "laboratory” for intensive planning at a practical and detailed level setting targets which are made public, rigorous monitoring of progress with implementation and making the results public. 

Operation Phakisa identified the ocean economy as one of the sectors for initial implementation, focussing on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s Oceans. Operation Phakisa has prioritised the following four new growth areas for the maritime sector based on their contribution to GDP and job creation: Marine transport and manufacturing; offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture; and marine protection services and ocean governance.

Subsequent to the national launch, the Province of the Eastern Cape also launched the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy initiative and established a provincial Operation Phakisa Task Team. In addition to the four labs of Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy, the Eastern Cape has identified marine tourism and recreation, skills development and research and innovation as additional clusters for the Ocean Economy in the province. 

Scarcity of skills is a binding constraint to the realisation of the potential of the Oceans Economy. A coherent and comprehensive approach to skills development is thus required. Skills development constitutes a major component of maritime industry development, hence it has been identified as a priority across all clusters of Operation Phakisa’s Ocean Economy.

In 2014, the HRD Council South Africa’s Maritime Sector Skills Technical Task Team conducted a maritime industry diagnostic study. The highlighted main challenges relating to maritime education and training in the country. Key challenges relate to the following: 

  • Inadequate production capacity for maritime education and training,
  • Inadequate infrastructure for maritime education and training,
  • Lack of suitable institutional and funding arrangements,
  • Maritime Industry not creating enough jobs, with the sector being largely foreign dominated, resulting in sourcing of skills and services internationally and gender inequities, and 
  • Inadequate marketing and support for maritime industry.

The Province of the Eastern Cape is confronted with similar challenges, with some nuances and peculiarities for the province, hence the Eastern Cape HRD Council took a decision in December 2014, to launch a Maritime Sector Skills initiative. The initiative was given an impetus when Premier Phumulo Masualle pronounced in February 2015 on the occasion of the State of the Provincial Address that the province of the Eastern Cape, through the Eastern Cape HRD Council, will develop a Maritime Sector Skills Plan. 

ECSECC is well-positioned as a catalyst for the maritime agenda in the province. With its mandate on development facilitation, ECSECC plays key role in mobilising various stakeholders across a number of sectors and spheres of government given the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of Ocean Economy. As an applied policy research think tank that advises provincial government and its social partners, ECSECC will play a key role in applying evidence-based approaches to the development and implementation of maritime industrial strategy for the province. 
Partnerships and stakeholder collaboration will take place through Working Groups that will be constituted according to the respective clusters of the Ocean Economy, i.e. Maritime Transport and Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Aquaculture, Environmental Protection and Ocean Governance and Marine Tourism and Recreation. Each Working Group will be constituted at least by the following category of stakeholders: 
  • Provincial Sector Departments
  • Public Entities
  • Selected academics & experts
  • Coastal District and Local Municipalities
  • Key Industry Players and Representative Bodies

Institutional arrangements to support the working groups are currently being developed. It is envisaged that an Operation Phakisa’s Ocean Economy secretariat based in the Office of the Premier will be established to provide technical support to the Working Groups. 

ECSECCs focus in the 2016/17 financial year includes: 
  • Conducting an Ocean Economy Baseline Study 
  • Implementation Roll-out of Provincial Maritime Sector Skills Plan
  • Monitoring and support of the two launched Maritime High Schools 

Project manager: Mr Teboho Qholosha




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