EThewini Maritime Cluster (EMC) recently hosted its 2nd Annual Maritime Summit at the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence on 3 and 4 April 2017, where different maritime related entities gathered to exploit ways through which the maritime sector could be better developed.

The summit conference covered topics which included marine and coastal tourism, marine manufacturing, Enterprise Development, Smart Port City and maritime training and skills. The theme for this year summit was ‘Connecting ports, Ships and Communities’ which is in line with International Maritime Organization theme for 2017.

The summit started with a 2 day maritime careers expo on the 29th and 30th March 2017, where various institutions presented their maritime related courses, entry requirements and opportunities. The maritime careers expo received more than 900 attendees and 16 schools from around the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal attended. The expo was aimed at promoting maritime careers awareness, especially to the previously marginalised communities.

On the 3rd and 4th April 2017, the summit entered into the main event which was the summit conference. The conference saw representatives from national, provincial and local government, Ports Authority, representatives from African countries and business sector among others.

Among dignitaries of note who attended the summit conference was the Kwa-Zulu Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mr. Sihle Zikalala , Transnet Group CEO, Mr Siyabonga Gama, Durban Port Manager, Mr Moshe Motlohi, and South African Maritime Safe Authority (SAMSA) Chief Executive Mr Sobantu Tilayi.

The conference delegates engaged in robust presentations and debates which its main aim was to ultimately reach consensus on innovative solutions on industry challenges.

“We need to ensure that there is a clear way forward for EMC to stimulate industry growth as we debate” said Mr Zeph Ndlovu EMC Chairman as he gave an overview of the summit.

Apart from the fruitful and insightful presentations, the second day of the conference saw several presentations and discussions where 5 parallel sessions took place.

During these sessions, delegates had the opportunity to engage and input on deliberations to take industry forward.

Highlights of summit conference resolutions included among others the following; To engage stakeholders in order to create a clear understanding of the marine and coastal tourism package and unlock its economic potential; To promote industry based research developments; To increase the number of ship repair births; and to fast-track and promote maritime enterprise development initiatives as means of economic transformation.

“As much as we put all our efforts in the industry to ensure its productivity, we also need to pay special attention to policies in place which seem to hinder progress and development” said Mr Sobantu Tilayi, South African Maritime Safe Authority (SAMSA) acting Chief Executive standing in for Deputy Minister of Department of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga.

When the conference reached its end, EMC, Managing Director Ms. Thato Tsautse expressed her gratitude about the event.

“I am excited that the event has been successful and that means it is time for EMC to go and implement the resolutions made. I am grateful that the industry speaks in 1 voice, but I urge everyone to remember funding EMC on their budget because without enough budget allocated, it becomes impossible to implement the resolutions” said Tsautse.

“Organizations that contributes to EMC and its programmes through funding will earn points on their BEE score cards” continued Tsautse.

The conference showcased that there is a strong need for collaboration and the need for willingness from stakeholders to do so.

Mr Siyabonga Gama, Transnet Group CEO confirmed that South African maritime industry is ready to expand to other African countries for market and marine services.

‘’We are poised and ready to do business in Africa” said Gama responding to questions during the conference.

Later in the evening of the Tuesday the 4th April 2017, EMC also held its first Maritime Excellence awards at Elangeni Hotel, which were aimed at recognising those individuals and institutions with a remarkable contribution to industry growth.