With territorial waters three times larger than its land area, South Africa is the ideal candidate for the development of the “blue economy”, that is said it can lift Africa out of poverty. Finally, aware of this maritime potential, the government intends to prioritize aquaculture in particular. A periscope look at the opportunities that lie ahead.
Long neglected by government policies, South Africa’s “10th province” is now receiving the greatest attention. This is reflected, for example, in the recent creation of a university campus for marine sciences, of a specialized institute, the modernization of ports, etc. It is also in this sense that Operation Phakisa (a government plan to accelerate the implementation of the NDP), specifically dedicated to the ocean economy, was relaunched in 2017. Among the four key growth sectors identified, Operation Phakisa focuses on aquaculture.
The most promising food sector in the world
The South African aquaculture sector is still in its infancy, especially given the enormous growth potential it represents. With 8 to 10% annual growth worldwide over the last twenty years, aquaculture is the most promising of the food sectors. The global demand for fish continues to increase, while traditional fishing is becoming increasingly insufficient. However, unlike freshwater aquaculture, which is mainly used for local food, marine aquaculture requires a lot of infrastructure, technology and… capital.
This is why the South African government is attempting to make the sector more attractive to investors. A series of measures are being taken to relax and coordinate maritime regulations and improve market access. Last March, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) launched a seminar to stimulate private investments in the aquaculture sector. This was a first of its kind, bringing together existing and potential fish farmers, investment facilitation agencies, development finance institutions and private investors.
The coasts are popular
South Africa has established a series of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in its territory, some of which are also Industrial Development Zones (IDZs). These areas benefit from specific legislation, tailored to investors (special tariffs, tax deductions, subsidies, etc.). As far as aquaculture is concerned, the best investment opportunities are of course concentrated in coastal IDZs. Saldanha Bay, Coega (Port Elizabeth), Richards Bay and finally East London, where a few investors such as Pure Ocean Aquaculture and Ocean Wise have already taken the opportunity.
Luxury species for export
South African aquaculture focuses on high-value species, mainly for export: algae, mussels, oysters and farmed abalone, of which South Africa is the world‘s main supplier.