With the dust settled on the announcement of the Provincial and National Budgets for this year, we are left with little hope with regards to concrete examples of job creation and clarity on catalytic projects for the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay in particular. However, government’s general call for collaboration with business is exactly what we need to turn the tide around.
As the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber we have advocated for some time to create partnership platforms and collaboration between government, private sector and civil society. Indeed we believe that to overcome economic challenges, all parties need to create and engage in opportunities that will seek to find innovative solutions to grow the economy.
This adaptation – for both business and government – needs to be done with a greater measure of transparency and sense of urgency to create more jobs and growth in the economy of the country. Although in future we may have to reposition ourselves on certain catalytic projects, we are confident on the oceans economy and what this could mean for us as a region. The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber firmly believes that Operation Phakisa is a huge opportunity for our city and that we need to unlock our ocean’s economy as Port Elizabethans.
Last year (2015) Environmental Affairs Minister Edwa Molewa set aside a decision to grant environmental authorization for the development of a proposed fish farm off Hobie Beach. Along with other stakeholders in Nelson Mandela Bay, the Business Chamber had taken a strong stance against the fish farm, based on its location and the effect it could have particularly on the beachfront tourism industry. The extended value of tourism in Nelson Mandela Bay runs to an estimated R18-billion per year, and as organised business we lobbied against the location of the fish farm, to protect the beachfront and city’s economy.
While the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber is a strong advocate for aquaculture as part of Operation Phakisa’s development of the oceans economy, we would not like to see one industry flourish at the cost of another. Another suitable location in Nelson Mandela Bay should be found for the continued pursuit of aquaculture, such as the Coega Industrial Development Zone.
There is already a tremendous commitment from Transnet on port and rail infrastructure in the province and we look forward to accelerated private sector participation in the ports and freight rail sector in Nelson Mandela Bay. Last year Transnet Port Terminals was issued with a permanent operating license for operating the manganese terminal at the Port of Ngqura. The relocation of the manganese terminals had been a priority for the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber for a number of years.
The Business Chamber had been lobbying extensively over several years with the Transnet group and all the relevant government departments for the relocation of the manganese terminal. The first manganese ship to make use of the manganese terminal at Ngqura is expected to dock in the harbour in the last quarter of 2018. The new manganese facility will include extensive port and rail infrastructure upgrades, which form a part of Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy to increase manganese exports.
Recently we also welcomed Transnet National Ports Authority’s multimillion rand upgrades to the Port of Port Elizabeth, viewed as a step in the right direction to realising Operation Phakisa. The R186-million upgrades to the port’s lead-in jetties and boat maintenance repair areas, is a welcome boost to our local economy.
As the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber we can indeed find hope in these wins for the city, while we continue to collaborate for Nelson Mandela Bay to become the best mid-sized city in Africa to live, work, play and grow a business by 2030.