Call for state-owned South African shipping industry

SA must start a state-owned shipping company

Call for state-owned South African shipping industry gets louder
State-owned shipping company

The call for South Africa to re-establish its own shipping industry to service ports along the coast as well as to connect the country with Brazil, India, China and the Far East is getting louder.

It was boosted last night when representatives of the maritime industry proposed that South Africa start a state-owned shipping company on its own, or in conjunction with other African states.

Their call was made at a Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) maritime trade forum discussion attended by transport minister Ben Martins, and again at an SABC2 Morning Live/The New Age televised breakfast session this morning.

SABC News reports the maritime forum was held just prior to the BRICS Summit, which started at the International Conference Centre today, when further calls were made to improve air and maritime connectivity between the BRICS countries.

Maritime experts point out that South Africa is strategically situated on a major shipping route between Brazil in the West, and India and China in the East.

According to the SABC report, South Africa Maritime Safety Authority chief executive Tsietsi Mokhele said South Africa was losing a lot of money by not being able to ship its own goods cheaply. He said it therefore meant that maritime defined the level to which South Africa could push itself in becoming a developed state and becoming a developed economy.

“We are not going to grow our country on the basis of domestic consumption. The only chance for growth for South Africa is the ability to produce and sell to others, and to receive goods that are coming into our country.”

Meanwhile, Martins has instructed the National Ports Regulator to draw up a new maritime policy by July.

Also attending the forum, representatives of South Africa's maritime industry have expressed frustration at the lack of policy focus, difficulty in dealing with government, and access to finance.

According to Mokhele, for South Africa and Africa to benefit fully from trade with other BRICS countries, they need to know what they want. He says this year could be used to stop running around articulating on policy and instead cleaning up the policy and the regulatory framework so that the game is clear to those who want to invest as well as for the entrepreneur.

According to the SABC, Mokhele says that at the moment the regulatory system is standing in the way of development.

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