Speaking during his official opening of the inaugural Terminal Operators Conference Africa 2017 (TOC) at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Tuesday, President Zuma called for Africa to end the trend of exporting raw materials.
According to the president, Africa can achieve this by developing its manufacturing capabilities, drive intra-African trade to achieve industrialisation and stop importing finished goods from other countries.
He also disclosed that Southern African Development Community had prioritised industrialisation and that African countries such as Angola, Kenya, Nigeria and Mozambique are currently positioning themselves as global players in trade and logistics.
“Due to Africa’s underdeveloped manufacturing capacity, the region’s inclination to export raw materials and import finished goods has increased.
Due to the high dependence on external trade, productive and efficient ports are critical for Africa’s growth and to maintain the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. To correct this anomaly‚ Africa needs to develop her manufacturing capabilities and achieve industrialisation,” Zuma added.
Coastal African countries need to invest in their ports and connect infrastructure to link with inland countries in order to grow intra-African trade, Mr. President also pointed out, adding that the potential of the ocean economy is highly concentrated within marine transport and manufacturing activities such as coastal shipping‚ trans-shipment‚ boat building‚ repair and refurbishment.
Over 99% of trade in Africa occurs by sea‚ he said, adding that South Africa is already promoting its ocean economy through Operation Phakisa‚ which has contributed about R60-billion to the country’s GDP in 2015 and accounted for 397‚000 jobs.
President Zuma told the gathering that he believes the South African economy could grow bigger and even create many jobs if there’s rapid focus on its ocean economy.
“…In fact‚ this gathering takes place at an opportune time‚ when we have just commenced our chairing of the Indian Ocean Rim Association in October. Our focus is to further explore and extracts marine resources for the benefit of our people. Thus the blue economy shall contribute to Africa’s development‚ as espoused in Agenda 2063,” he stated.
The TOC is the only major international exhibition and conference in the world that focuses on how to showcase port and terminal technology operations.
This year’s conference took place in KwaZulu-Natal – South Africa’s province with a maritime industry that spans sectors such as freight and logistics‚ ancillary maritime support services‚ tourism and leisure‚ marine energy and fishing‚ aquaculture and mariculture.