Nelson Mandela Bay Maritime Cluster hopes to ignite sector cooperation

It’s tough living next door to the Western Cape.  More tourists, more ships, more multihull yacht designers – the West is Best in terms of foreign direct investment, or so it must seem to the quieter sibling, the Eastern Cape.

But times are changing and a revitalised Nelson Mandela Bay maritime Cluster is planning to attract more attention, partly thanks to board member Lusanda Fibi and his networking efforts.

Fibi, also a board member of the SA Maritime Business Forum, believes the maritime sector needs a more collective approach to job-creation and promoting brand SA. He says the various clusters, which each have particular skill-sets, should foster collaboration in everybody’s best interest: “We need to find  a way where we can work together, to sharpen on differences in terms of offerings,” Fibi told SABBEX.  And one way to make this happen is via the newly-established SA Cluster Alliance, of which Fibi is national coordinator.  The Alliance aims to promote a unified ‘maritime voice’ in view of taking product to market and maximising investment opportunities.  Said Fibi: The SA maritime cluster alliance aims to find ways whereby each (regional cluster) can have its own niche market: The Western Cape can focus on the boatbuilding side, East London can look at agri processing – it was earmarked for that in the past – while Nelson Mandela bay can look more at bunkering. That’s what we want to do. It is useless to say you will be a master of everything. You need to focus on available resources and focus on what you are good at and how to make that more effective.”

He said he hoped key stakeholders would also seek synergies between the multiple organisations in the maritime space, among them the SA Maritime Business Forum. By working together these organisations could more effectively start to realise the aims embodied in the Department of Transport’s Comprehensive Maritime Transport policy, Fibi said.

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