Investors eye ocean economy wave

The exciting ocean economy, or Operation Phakisa, takes another step forward today when potential investors gather in Buffalo City to listen to government set out the opportunities.

VISIONARY: Ocean economy entrepreneur Gino del Fava, who chairs BCM’s Maritime cluster Picture: MARK ANDREWS

From tomorrow until Friday the national Department of Public Works will be @The Venue at Hemingways Hotel presenting some of the scores of coastal properties on its books which could be matched with entrepreneurial business projects, especially for interested black investors.

That’s the word from enigmatic Gino del Fava, who is chairing the Buffalo City Maritime Cluster, which arose following the first big maritime conference held in East London a year ago.

Del Fava, said the cluster had prepared for the conference at a workshop last month. He said: “There are pockets of state land from Bizana to St Francis Bay, some of it under traditional authority, others under Public Works. The department will present what it has on its asset register. They must tell us what is available for development.

“I have been trying to get government to unpack this Operation Phakisa so that small communities can understand what it is all about. It is not only for politicians, it is for private sector and rural communities,” he said.

In a government advert last month, four investor conferences were pitched for the Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape.

In their ad, government notes that already 300 businesses are leasing state-owned coastal property, but the drive is on to “unlock further economic opportunities” in fishing, sport, leisure, retail, tourism, mining, farming, hospitality, logistics and energy operations.

Public Works states that among its national priorities is the development of a new harbour in Port St Johns.

The department says it expects to receive proposals for investment and development (RFPs) by the end of each of the conferences. It lists other areas of the oceans economy it sees as viable for development being marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas, marine protection services and ocean governance, aquaculture, coastal and marine tourism, and skills development and capacity building.

The advert states that national government, through Public Works will make coastal land and buildings available to expand existing businesses, create new ones, stimulate local economies, create new jobs, generate revenue, and deepen economic transformation.

Development proposals will be assessed in terms of their scale of investment, projected growth and turnovers, how many jobs are created and retained, what degree of empowerment can be expected, how much revenue will the project generate, how appropriate are the proposals in relation to existing economic zoning and integrated development plans and how much commitment is shown to small businesses, (SMMEs) and to what it calls “localisation”.

Government is promising that all proposals will be dealt with under recently developed guidelines or “framework” for the coastal properties and small harbour projects. — mikel@dispatch.co.za

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