DTIC’s Zukiswa Kimani says Department keen to provide further support

South African boat builders have won an unprecedented three Boat of the Year titles at the prestigious Cruising World annual industry awards.

Robertson & Caine (Leopard 42), Balance /Nexus (Balance 482), and Phoenix Marine /Xquisite (Xquisite X5) all achieved top honours in their respective categories. In addition, the judging panel gave Special Awards to the Kinetic KC54 and the Voyage 590. The success garnered high praise from industry and government stakeholders, and prompted a wave of congratulations on social media. It also caps a successful year for the local industry which is riding a wave of orders and enquiries.

Zukiswa Kimani, Chief Director Industrial Policy for the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition

“The Awards give confidence to the South African boatbuilding sector,” said Zukiswa Kimani, Chief Director Industrial Policy for the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. “What is also heart warming for us was that the industry was able to get these accolades in the middle of the pandemic. They were able to withstand the adversity brought by the pandemic,” Kimani said, adding that the yards had proved their resilience. “For me this is a boost to the reputation of the sector and the South African market. It sort of confirms the quality of the boats that are manufactured and it says to us that we need to continue putting in place initiatives to try and boost the sector.”


She said the DTIC had visited some of the Cape Town yards late last year to witness the boatbuilding success story firsthand. “For us it was encouraging to see a lot of companies continue with orders they had already secured from the international market,” Kimani said.

Africa was a key potential growth market, due partly to the increase in high net worth individuals on the African continent. Further industry support could help the local industry explore this market. “It would be good for South African boats to find their way into the African market. We must try and support them (SA yards) further so that they can explore other markets.”

She said the Department was exploring ways to provide funding support despite the current financial constraints: “We need to find creative ways of supporting the sector in the context of the financial challenges,” she said, adding that boatbuilders often battled to access funding due to inherent difficulties in planning ahead based on unpredictable order books.

Financial assistance was also key in terms of another of the Department’s key priority areas – transformation. Kimani said government hoped to see meaningful change at ownership level.

“We understand that it is a very capital-intensive sector. And it requires technical skills,” she said.

These and other challenges needed to be addressed at workplace and education level, she said.

“Even in our discussions with students, we say it is not enough for you to be an employee, we say to them you should use your skills to try and see if you can be an employer,” Kimani said.

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