South Africa could create at least 5 000 jobs by providing ship and oil rig repair and maintenance, Transport Minister Ben Martins said in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Addressing the 2012 South African Maritime Industry Conference, Martins said a re-invigorated maritime industry could become a key driver of economic growth and job creation in the country.
One of the biggest opportunities that had been identified in the maritime sector was that of positioning South Africa as a centre for ship and oil rig repair and maintenance.
Cape Town’s harbour is already involved in the repair of a number of rigs each year, but this could escalate, with 250 oil and gas explorations set to take place off the coast of West Africa in the next five years.
“Repair work driven by the expected explorations could create about 4,000 to 5,000 direct jobs and a further 1,000 indirect jobs,” Martins said.
He said the government had developed a draft Green Paper on maritime shipping, which would be tabled before the Cabinet shortly.
Research was done on South Africa as a hub for the oil industry through the marketing of cargo, logistics and passenger shipping.
A draft policy on making ports more competitive was also being compiled, Martins said.
He said one consideration was to set up a transhipment hub in a special economic zone (SEZ) to carry out re-labelling and container repairs.
Over the next three days, delegates at the conference – which is hosted by the SA Maritime Safety Authority – are expected to debate how to make the maritime industry more competitive, including taking lessons from the Philippines and Nigeria.
Martins said over the next two weeks, his department would be talking to the chief executives and boards of the 12 public entities that report to the department to discover what improvements were needed.