A boat-building industry has emerged in East London, about 280 kilometres north east of here, and it is taking advantage of the fact that the country is bordered by oceans on its eastern, western and southern sides.

Alfred Manunga, who works for Fab Innovations, a fibre glass manufacturer, which is supplying the boat building industry, is confident of more opportunities within the sector.

Manunga said at the Oceans Economy Summit held here last week that the event gave his company exposure “to meet the people who know those who can give us contracts and so that we can be able to propose and to even recommend things we are making so that we can be in the market”.

South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province and its 800 kilometres of coastline is set to be the hub of the Blue Economy in South Africa, especially as shipping is vital to the country with 80 per cent of South Africa’s foreign trade moved on the ocean.

The Port Manager at the Port of East London, Jacky Brown, said: “For the Port of East London, which has been identified through Operation Pakisa as on of the delivery platforms to make ship repairs, especially boat-building, a reality for us. We are working very closely with government to look at how do we ignite the industry in this side of the Eastern Cape and I think there’s a huge potential.

“The work that has been done so far has transpired in an initial investments of 239 million Rand (about 17.3 million US dollars), just on basic infrastructure.”

Delegates at the summit also identified the need to develop skills in the ship-building and repair sector.