Eastern Cape maritime industry leaders will set the tone for moves to tap into the province’s maritime resources, potential and heritage at the first ever Eastern Cape Ports and Maritime Conference next month in Port Elizabeth.
“The inaugural three day conference will play a strategic role in defining not only how maritime potential is harnessed, but offer insights into effectively managing the vast maritime resources of the province, its three ports and industry linked to these,” said MEC Mcebisi Jonas of the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), which conceptualised and is co-sponsoring the event with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC).
“In most countries, the port and maritime industry makes a significant contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is comparable in size to a number of other important industries in the economy,” said Jonas. “Developing countries are especially dependent on their ports for both imports and exports, and South Africa is no exception. Moreover, the port industry has important linkages with other industries, particularly the transport chain, which has huge potential for growth in the province.
“The size of the port and maritime industry is measured in terms of production, value added, employment, earnings and capital expenditure. The unemployment levels in the Eastern Cape and the need to create jobs and diversify the economy of the region, makes it imperative to look at the role of the ports and maritime industry and how it can assist with economic development.”
The conference, which offers free entry and registration, is being held from 29 to 31 May at the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World Conference Centre in Port Elizabeth and will feature various thought leaders from across industry, led by a keynote address from Economic Development Minister, Ebrahim Patel.
Also providing papers and strategic insight are speakers from Transnet, the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), Coega IDZ, the Nelson Mandela Bay Maritime Cluster, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and a line-up of national and international guest speakers.
They will cover a range of topics on port-rail integration, the strategic importance of the Eastern Cape’s two industrial development zones and investment and development plans for the regional ports.
“There is a need to showcase our unique maritime assets to the world and also to drive economic development, underpinned by logistics, through our existing ports. The conference plans to bring together international and local port operators, users, government and service providers to discuss future growth opportunities. This will help position the regions amongst the greater port Provinces in the world,” added Jonas.
ECDC rallied for the conference after it identified a business need to highlight the benefits of having three ports in one province and two ports within one city. Both East London and Nelson Mandela Bay are home to special purpose zones primed for maximizing investment. Nelson Mandela Bay – with its two ports and the Coega IDZ – is an established export and manufacturing hub with global linkages, while the East London IDZ is prime industrial park in South Africa, renowned for its customised solutions for various industries including automotive, agro-processing and aqua-culture.
“It is imperative to test how the province can leverage on these assets to increase the economic impact of the ports,” said ECDC chief economist, Mxolisi Lindie. “The route to achieving this first step in harnessing maritime wealth – both actual and potential – is to pull together maritime industry experts in the Eastern Cape who can pinpoint the maritime opportunities that exist in the region and what is constraining those opportunities from being realised, while ensuring procurement and distribution lines are expanded and strengthened to maximize trade and investment opportunities.”
The conference will unpack opportunities for investors and the broader industry in maritime and other export and logistic intense sectors with specific reference to the deep-water port of Ngqura and the Coega and East London IDZs.
“We want the industry to look at the Eastern Cape ports as the first port of call for all transport related logistics and support – and as sites of increased investment opportunities in the maritime services industry directed towards the Eastern Cape Province, particularly the two IDZs,” said Mfundo Piti, CDC strategic projects manager.
One of the key envisaged outcomes is the forging of a mutually beneficial co-operative alliance to connect an African Network of Maritime Clusters with the European Network of Maritime Clusters and other maritime clusters around the world, say organisers.
“A European Network of Maritime Clusters is already in existence – and we cannot afford be left behind. There is a need to tap the interrelationship between port development, maritime cluster development and the broader development of a thriving maritime industry,” said Peter Myles, Nelson Mandela Bay maritime cluster coordinator.
“The regional maritime industry is particularly excited for the event, given the “ability of the conference to deal with current challenges, chart way forward and open way for new way of thinking around maritime opportunities,” added Myles, saying it would also provide a platform for business-to-business discussions between the European and African maritime industries as well as between industry players across South Africa. “There is also an opportunity to boost tourism through making the conference an annual event.”
The inaugural Eastern Cape Ports and Maritime Conference will be held in Port Elizabeth from May 29 to 31. Day one and two focus on in-depth analysis and discussions around specific topics, case studies, papers and thought leadership panel discussions, with experts and representatives from sponsor companies. Day three comprises a tour of the ports and the Coega IDZ.
The event is free for maritime industry attendees. “As an inaugural event, we want to create the environment for maximum participation,” added Jonas. “We therefore invite those in the maritime sector to attend and participate in robust engagements that can help us chart the way forward for plain sailing industry growth,” said Jonas.
Conact Info for the Eastern Cape Ports and Maritime Conference