By Communications Minister Faith Muthambi

It is an exciting time for South Africa following the Operation Phakisa open day on the ocean economy. Operation Phakisa (Sotho phrase for “hurry up”) is modelled on the success of the Malaysian “Big Fast Results” methodology that was used to spur that country’s economic transformation and address national priorities such as poverty and crime. The approach entails meeting with stakeholders for detailed and practical planning, setting clear targets, tracking of progress and making the results public.

Through Operation Phakisa we leapfrog what could have otherwise become a cumbersome and drawn out process. Moreover, it demonstrates our commitment to use international best practice to build a better life for all, especially the poor and the working.

Last week South Africa witnessed the unveiling of detailed plans by President Jacob Zuma for the country to explore our oceans to grow the economy.

Today more than ever the oceans are big business and have become a growth point for a variety of industries including fishing, marine transport, tourism and even electricity generation to name but a few.

Ocean economy is part of government’s commitment to radical transformation to move South Africa forward and a tangible effort to address the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Teams comprising of the government, labour, business and academia worked in Delivery Laboratories over six weeks since July this year to develop the plans. They explored opportunities in the marine transport and manufacturing; offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture as well as marine protection services and ocean governance.

President Jacob Zuma said: “The initiatives arising out of this hard work are expected to increase the ocean economy’s GDP contribution by more than R20 billion by 2019.”

Tapping into the potential of the ocean economy is the first phase of Operation Phakisa, our national initiative to implement policies and programmes better, faster and more effectively.

South Africa is blessed with a 3 924 km coastline; we are uniquely bordered by two oceans on three sides – east, south and west.

The ocean economy has the potential to contribute R177 billion to the gross domestic product and create just over 1 million jobs by 2033.

Eighteen initiatives have thus far been developed to boost our marine transport and manufacturing sector which among others include establishing a National Shipping Company in partnership with South Korea.

We will expand our port capacity for repair work of oil ships in transit along our coastline and oil rigs in our marine territory. The use of more local components for ship building will support our local manufacturing industry.

Increasing the capacity for ship repairs at Richards Bay harbour will create approximately 200 direct jobs while the use of more South African ships to export minerals will create an additional estimated 4 000 direct jobs.

Eleven initiatives have been identified in the Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration sector. Approximately 9 billion barrels of oil lie along our coast and adjoining waters – equivalent to 40 years of oil consumption in the country.

Thirty wells have been targeted for exploration over the next 10 years, which could ultimately lead to the production of 370 000 barrels of oil and gas a day over the next 20 years.

The government will continue to play a facilitative role by providing the legislative framework governing offshore oil and gas and set up a “one-stop shop” within the Department of Mineral Resources to streamline this sector.

The government’s bold decision to optimise ocean economy within the confines of marine ecology will position the aquaculture sector to support rural development, especially for marginalised coastal communities.

It will lead to 24 new projects across the country by 2019 and boost revenue of the sector from R500 million today to almost R1.4 billion in 2019.

An Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee is proposed to co-ordinate aquaculture applications and approvals. It will aim to reduce the current processing time by 73 percent, from 890 days to 240 days in future.

The second phase of Operation Phakisa started on 13 October 2014 and will focus on improving the quality of service in the public health sector.

“Work streams are already hard at work in Gauteng up to a six- week period to uncover what will entail the ideal, effective clinic in our health system. Delivery plans will be released to the public on completion of the exploratory phase,” said President Zuma.

The result will help us overhaul our primary healthcare system by effectively addressing weaknesses and ensuring sustained improvements in the quality of services.

We are confident that through Operation Phakisa we will achieve our 2030 targets as set out in the National Development Plan and together move South Africa forward.