South Africa Should Harness Its Oceans To Create Employment

Since a long time, there has been a lot of talk about the way in which South Africa can generate more employment by harnessing the resources of its oceans. To develop a thriving ocean economy, the initiating points would be related to building up the skills that would be eventually needed by the industry.

Very soon, the Government of South Africa intends to utilize the potential of its ocean’s economy for addressing the many challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. It is a fact that oceanic regions cover over 70% of the surface of the Earth and serve to be a significant source of energy, food and minerals.

In the African continent, South Africa is exclusively bordered by oceans on its three sides. The available maritime coastline is about 3,924 km long with the inclusion of Marion islands and Prince Edward in the southern ocean. This is similar to the distance between Kampala, the Ugandan capital and Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city. As South Africa is conveniently located alongside one of the most frequently used international shipping routes for the purposes of trade and commerce, it makes for a favorable halfway station in terms of international trade. Unfortunately, this immense opportunity has not yet been fitfully harnessed. In recent times, with more than 9000 ships traversing through the nation’s ports annually, it is indeed concerning that just one happens to be listed with South Africa.

As per a recent publishing in an assessment of the economic factors relevant to South Africa lays down an estimation that the country’s oceans are equipped to contribute a whopping R177 billion to its GDP. In turn, there would be more than one million new jobs created by 2033. An understanding of these growth factors clearly reveals that there would be at least 4% annual growth in terms of job creation and GDP contribution if the oceanic resources are harnessed effectively.

However profitable they seem to the eye, these ambitious targets would be tough to realize without increasing the available pool of skilled labor present in the maritime industry. Differently designed and more innovative strategies would be needed for establishing this growth in the blue economy of South Africa which is being nurtured in an initiative termed as Operation Phakisa. This initiative covers 4 keys areas including marine manufacturing and transportation, aquaculture, offshore gas and oil, as well as ocean governance and marine protection.