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Huge potential in SA's oceans economy - Transnet manager

Dec 01 2016 16:55
Carin Smith

Cape Town - There is a huge potential in South Africa's oceans economy, Lloyd Tobias, Transnet's general manager for the export of iron ore and manganese said on Thursday.

He was the guest speaker at a business breakfast hosted by the Black Management Forum (BMF) of the Western Cape.

"We have the opportunity to bring in billions of rand and create jobs from the oceans economy and Transnet is playing a large role in this process," said Tobias.

"We need business - especially black business - to come on board. The opportunity is there and we are willing to assist - we just need you to come on board."

He said Transnet supports the BMF's initiatives.

"The economy has put a strain on capital. That is why we are looking at areas where we can optimise our capital expenditure. We are also looking at volumes," he said.

"A lot of money is going into especially smaller businesses, thanks to the Transnet supplier development programme. We want to make sure smaller guys also get in. We also partner smaller new entrants with larger guys, for instance."

He said Transnet would like to see a lot of localisation taking place.

"We partnered with some agencies to established enterprise development hubs, which are quite successful. Their purpose is to help smaller suppliers. The most recent one is in Saldanha and has already created about 50 jobs," he said.

Tobias said te oceans economy relies heavily on the ports. That is why Transnet wants to make significant investments on its ports side.

"Operation Phakisa was launched by the president in July 2014. Its main goal is to see how the oceans economy can increase the contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). We look at the marine transport, for instance," said Tobias.

"In this regard SA can serve cargo traffic from both the east and the west. There is also potential in the oil and gas industry and in floating storage."

He regards marine manufacturing as another big opportunity, especially supported by industrial development zones (IDZs).

Training is very important in this regard.

"We have training centres for our people based on functional training for our ports. The training centres are also for the wider communities. The focus is on skills development and we also promote school and university awareness," said Tobias.

"The other area largely untapped is aquaculture within ports. We are actively supporting the development of aquaculture. We can support black businesses in this regard as it is a largely untapped area."

Ayanda Mfusi, chair of the BMF's Century City branch, said it saddens her that black business is not making significant inroads into the oceans industry.

"It is not only about how to tap into this industry, but also about creating sustainability and scale in an economy that is predominantly white," she said.

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

transnet  |  ocean  |  sa economy
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