Mandela University and ECDC partnership to boost EC economy through Operation Phakisa
Nelson Mandela University and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) have entered into a three-year partnership agreement aimed at revitalising and stimulating the provincial economy in line with Operation Phakisa objectives.
In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed at Mandela University on 21 November 2017, the parties have committed to exploring possible areas of collaboration; with the institution acting mainly as the knowledge hub for oceans economy projects, while the ECDC assists with the localisation of the project with respect to procurement and other related support services.
The intention of the MOU is to formalize the co-operation between the University and ECDC and to provide a broad framework in which both parties will identify and pursue areas of opportunity, strategic collaboration and cooperation.
While the partnership agreement spells out broad areas of cooperation between the parties, any specific areas of collaboration or collaboration with other organisations that arise within the framework of the MOU will be explored and documented in separate service level agreements (SLAs) for each project undertaken.
Speaking at the signing, outgoing Vice-Chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz said the partnership was a natural progression as the University and ECDC’s mandates are akin, both having the development of the province at heart.
“This [signing] ceremony is product of lengthy set of meetings and bilaterals over the last year and a half, between Nelson Mandela University and ECDC,” he said.
“We share a number of common areas of concern regarding the development of the province. The ECDC’s core mandate is economic and social development of provincial citizens. Ours is to serve the public, and that includes, at its core, the development of the human capacity of the 5.6-million people in our province and, of course, the country and continent.
“Our mandate therefore coincides with that of the ECDC and it only makes sense to enter into this partnership.”
In 2014, the South African government launched the bold Operation Phakisa growth strategy, under the guidance of the National Development Plan, to harness the largely untapped potential of the blue or oceans economy.
ECDC chief executive officer Mr Ndzondelelo Dlulane said with the corporation charged with facilitating the development and growth of the province and with Operation Phakisa identified as the next great economic injector, they would be driving the stimulation of the ocean economy in the Eastern Cape.
“At the centre of that development is the SMME sector, so we drive that sector and help establish and develop it. By doing so, they create jobs,” he said.
“The oceans economy is one of the identified emerging sectors within the province, coming down from national government as part of the National Development Plan. It is largely untapped and very little has been happening there.
“Part of our responsibility, as charged by government is to ensure that this inclusive socioeconomic development and growth also serves into the sea in terms of developing the economy of the ocean.
“We have identified a number of potential economic activities in the maritime environment. We will identify some SMMEs, develop them, support them and ensure that they have the capabilities they require or resources necessary to tap into these economic activities.”
A few years prior to the launch of Operation Phakisa, in 2010, the oceans economy had contributed about R54-billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounted for approximately 316 000 jobs.
The blue economy was thus identified as the next major injector to the country’s GDP, with the potential to create up to a million jobs and contribute R177-billion to the economy by 2033.
These ambitious targets, however, cannot be met without increasing and improving the skills pool available to the marine and maritime industry.
South Africa is the 12th largest maritime trading nation in the world, and is bordered to the east, west and south by some 3 000km of coastline, but is mostly a recipient rather than a participant in the global maritime economy.
Mandela University, which is recognised for its leadership in generating cutting-edge knowledge and innovation, is making a positive contribution to realising the economic potential of our oceans whilst protecting South Africa’s rich marine biodiversity.
This, through its Ocean Sciences strategic proposition and recently launched campus, which is essentially a dedicated centre of excellence that will foster transdisciplinary research and innovation, with a postgraduate focus, necessary to address the ecological, economic and social sustainability challenges of the oceans.
As part of the agreement, Mandela University will, among other things, provide the training and research component of projects concluded and co-operate with ECDC in this regard as well as a designated Project Manager for each of the projects to give oversight for the implementation of projects undertaken in the MOU.
The ECDC will see to the provision of funding contractors and SMMEs that will be appointed to render services for the implementation of programs in respect of the oceans economy in the Eastern Cape. The Corporation will also offer enterprise and supplier development and support, as well as co-ordinate the work of the municipalities and other social partners central to the project.
Some of the identifiable areas of collaboration include:
- Aquaculture, fish farming and mariculture – the establishment of a training academy based on a national skills needs study
- Ship building – a feasibility study has been conducted and PE and EL have been identified as hubs for ship building and repair
- Small harbour development – Port St Johns (to include the provincial government)
- Bunkering services – training of local crews in relevant tanker endorsement certificates training programmes in Port Elizabeth (1-2 week programme) at the University
- Coastal tourism and crafts – diversion of N2 route along the coast to promote accessibility
- Coffee Bay master plan development
The partnership aims to ultimately rope in the other universities in the province to work together with the MOU partners and other provincial stakeholders towards the sustained growth of the Eastern Cape.