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Operation Phakisa - Oceans Economy

The Operation Phakisa website provides access to a much more comprehensive content on different focus areas of Operation Phakisa. 

Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy Aquaculture Sector yearly reviews

It has been five years since the introduction of Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy and considerable milestones were achieved to grow the aquaculture sector. During 2019 in the 3 feet plans targets, a total investment of R2.8 billion (Government and Private) since 2014 was required to unlock an additional 2 618 direct jobs, 20 970 tons production capacity and increase turnover across the 36 projects to over R1.6 billion per annum.

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It has been four years since the introduction of Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy and considerable milestones were achieved to grow the aquaculture sector. During 2018 in the 3ft plans, a total investment of R1.9 billion (Government and Private) since 2014 was required to unlock additional 1 300 direct jobs, 6 900 tons production capacity and increase turnover across the 35 projects to over R770 million per annum.

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It has been three years since the launch of the Operation Phakisa: Ocean’s Economy and substantial developments have been made to grow the aquaculture sector. During 2017 as per the 3 feet plans, a projected additional investment of R890 million (Government and Private) was required to unlock an additional 640 direct jobs, 6500 tons production and increase turnover across the 36 projects to over R770 million per annum.

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It has been two years since the launch of the Operation Phakisa: Ocean’s Economy and substantial developments have been made to grow the aquaculture sector. During phase two of Operation Phakisa (2016) an dditional investment of R750 million* (government and private) was required to unlock an additional 450 direct jobs; this is a 20% increase for the sector

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It has been one year since the launch of the Operation Phakisa: Ocean's Economy. Substantial developments have been made to grow the aquaculture sector. The document provides overview of the targets reached up to now.

»​ read more. [PDF - 1.23 mb]


Introduction and background

In August 2013, President Jacob Zuma undertook a state visit to Malaysia. He was introduced to the Big Fast Results Methodology through which the Malaysian government achieved significant government and economic transformation within a very short time. Using this approach, they addressed national key priority areas such as poverty, crime and unemployment.

With the support of the Malaysian government, the Big Fast Results approach was adapted to the South African context. To highlight the urgency of delivery the approach was renamed to Operation Phakisa (“phakisa” meaning “hurry up” in Sesotho).

Operation Phakisa is a results-driven approach, involving setting clear plans and targets, on-going monitoring of progress and making these results public.

The methodology consists of eight sequential steps. It focusses on bringing key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia as well as civil society organisations together to collaborate in:

  • detailed problem analysis;
  • priority setting;
  • intervention planning; and
  • delivery

These collaboration sessions are called laboratories (labs). The results of the labs are detailed (3 foot) plans with ambitious targets as well as public commitment on the implementation of the plans by all stakeholders.

The implementation of the plans are rigorously monitored and reported on. Implementation challenges are actively managed for effective and efficient resolution. Operation Phakisa are initially implemented in two sectors, the ocean economy and health.

Starting point

Operation Phakisa represents that new spirit of moving faster in meeting government’s targets. South African Government’s starting point was that South Africa is surrounded by a vast ocean which has not fully taken advantage of the immense potential of this untapped resource. The oceans have the potential to contribute up to 177 billion rand to the gross domestic product (GDP) and create just over one million jobs by 2033.

To further explore this potential, we brought together teams from government, labour, business, academia and other sectors to work together in experimental laboratories, to explore all possibilities and further unlock the potential of our country’s vast coastline.

Operation Phakisa focuses on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, which could contribute up to R177 billion to the GDP by 2033 and between 800 000 and 1 million direct jobs. Forty seven (47) detailed initiatives have been identified, which on implementation, will increase the oceans economy's GDP contribution by R20 million and lead to the creation of 22 000 direct new jobs by 2019.

Six focus areas (Also known Work Streams)

By focusing on six priority growth areas, the Oceans Economy will unlock the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, providing significant GDP growth and job creation potential. Two enablers, namely:

1) Skills and Capacity Building and

2) Research, Technology and Innovation, support the six work streams.

1. Marine Transport and Manufacturing work stream

The focus area is moved from the premise that we have not exploited South Africa’s strategic location, infrastructure and skills base to accelerate growth of this sector. The teams have highlighted a concern that South Africa currently has no registered ships. This is in spite of the fact that each year, three hundred million (300 million) tons of cargo moves through our ports in imports and exports.

In addition, 1.2 million tonnes of liquid fuels move along our coast, while the rapidly expanding offshore oil and gas activities require a supporting fleet of vessels. Another opportunity arises from our country’s location.

South Africa is ideally positioned to serve the East-West cargo traffic and the booming African offshore oil and gas industry, through marine manufacturing, which includes ship and rig repair, refurbishment and boatbuilding. Despite this competitive advantage, we currently capture only one % of the global market of ship repair and refurbishment. Of the eighty oil rigs estimated to be in the range of the Western Cape, only four rigs are serviced per year, showing significant potential for growth. As a solution, the marine transport work stream has developed eighteen initiatives across three categories, infrastructure and operations, skills and capacity building as well as market growth to accelerate sector growth.

The initiatives will expand South African port capacity for repair work for oil ships and oil rigs. Some of the initial targets drawn up include firstly:

  • An increase in the local manufacturing capacity through a ten % increase in the usage of local components for boat and ship building.
  • An increase in the ship repair capacity in Richards Bay, thus creating two hundred (200) direct jobs.
  • To create a dedicated occupational team for the sector within the Department of Higher Education and Training to drive alignment between theoretical and workplace learning.
  • Increasing the amount of minerals exported on South African ships, which will create more than four thousand direct jobs. Some of the progress made already include the process of establishing a national shipping company, a partnership with South Korea.

2. Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration work stream

Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration has indicated that South Africa’s coast and adjoining waters have possible resources of approximately nine billion barrels of oil. This is equivalent to 40 years of South African oil consumption.

We also have eleven billion barrels oil equivalent of natural gas, which is equal to three hundred and seventy five years of South African gas consumption. However, there is significant uncertainty about the extent of these resources. This work stream has developed eleven initiatives. The team has set an ambitious target of drilling 30 exploration wells in 10 years. Over the next 20 years, this work could lead to the production of three hundred thousand (370 000) barrels of oil and gas per day. This is approximately eighty % of current oil and gas imports. The result would be one hundred and thirty thousand jobs and a contribution of two point two billion US dollars (US $2.2 billion) to GDP.

The South African Government is aware that it has to create the enabling environment to give industry the comfort to invest in this capital-intensive sector. The work stream has outlined some initial targets towards this goal.

Government has to:

  • Provide clarity and stability in the legislative framework governing offshore oil and gas, ensuring a “win-win” outcome for government, industry, and society.
  • Build a “one-stop shop” within the Department of Mineral Resources to streamline and regulate the licensing process for offshore oil and gas exploration and production.
  • Conduct emergency response drills also as industry to initiate the creation of a world-class oil spill response capacity in South Africa.
  • Make the International Oil Pollution and Compensation Fund operational.
  • Exploit research opportunities presented by offshore oil and gas explorations that will unlock data ecosystems, marine resources, and ocean related renewable energy.

The South African Government has welcomed these initiatives and proposals.

3. The Aquaculture work stream

The Aquaculture work stream has underlined the high growth potential of South Africa’s aquaculture sector due to increasing demand for fish. While aquaculture contributes to almost half of the global fish supply, it contributes less than 1% of South Africa’s fish supply. The sector offers significant potential for rural development, especially for marginalised coastal communities. This work stream has identified eight initiatives to spur the growth of the sector. One initiative will address the selection and implementation of 24 projects across South Africa by 2019.

These projects are expected to grow the aquaculture sector’s revenue from about half a billion rand today, to almost R1.4billion in 2019. Three further aquaculture initiatives relate to the creation of an enabling regulatory environment, including the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee. The committee will co-ordinate aquaculture applications and approvals. The intention is to reduce processing time from the current periods of about 890 days to 240 days in future. Other initiatives focus on funding support, increasing the skills pool and awareness and improving access to markets.

Related link to access more information on Aquaculture -  The Aquaculture Lab Aspiration 2019... »​ read more.

The stream has identified some initial targets as well. They recommend implementing nine projects in the Eastern Cape, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces. The work stream also proposes the establishment of the Aquaculture Development Fund, consolidating approximately R500 000 000 of government’s funds from five departments into one pot. The teams also propose the creation of a South African industry body that will establish seventy to eighty buyer relationships such as local retailers and food service companies. This will create a comprehensive market database covering one hundred % of South African aquaculture production.

4. Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance work stream

They looked at South Africa’s jurisdiction over a very large exclusive economic zone, with an extent of one and a half million square kilometres. With such a large ocean jurisdiction, effective governance is critical but will be challenging given the size and complexity of our oceans. This work stream undertook the task of developing an overarching, integrated ocean governance framework for the sustainable growth of the ocean economy. The work stream identified 10 initiatives to be implemented by 2019. These include the development and implementation of an overarching governance plan by March 2015.

The plan entails the protection of the ocean environment from all illegal activities and to promote its multiple socio-economic benefits with results by 2017. The team also proposes the delivery of a National Marine Spatial Planning Framework in order to enable a sustainable ocean economy by December 2015.

In the spirit of Operation Phakisa and getting things done as quickly as possible, there is already progress on working towards an Oceans Act. We hope to have a draft Oceans Bill ready in 2015. The Oceans Act will provide a clear foundation for marine spatial planning. Going forward, Delivery Units have been established in the lead departments that will drive the implementation of the detailed delivery plans.

The progress will be monitored on a weekly basis by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency. We intend to provide regular feedback so that the public can also track progress.

5. Small Harbours work stream

This work stream aims  develop un-proclaimed small harbours that have potential for both harbour infrastructure, marine and offshore aquaculture, small towns precinct development, tourism and EPWP job creation in Boegoebaai, Cape St Francis, Hibberdene, Port Alfred, Port Edward, Port Grosvenor, Port Nolloth, Port Shepstone and Port St Johns. The small Harbour Tune-up has indicated that it could create 12 000 new jobs and contribute to the Gross Geographic Product by R6 billion by 2019.

6. Coastal and Marine Tourism work stream

The Coastal and Marine Tourism work stream aims to identify the high impact, coastal tourism initiatives, interventions and projects, analyse the current and potential future contribution of Coastal and Marine Tourism to non-urban coastal tourism.


Enabler 1 - Skills and Capacity Building

The South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) has been established to coordinate all skills and capacity building activities for all Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy. The Department of Higher Education has made available an allocation of R296 million for the establishment and funding of the National Cadet Programme. New occupational qualifications have been developed for entry-level seafarers. These 25 qualifications will be delivered at seven public technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, which are already being capacitated for this purpose.

Enabler 2 - Research, Technology and Innovation

The Department of Science and Technology will assist in enabling research in maritime environmental studies. The Minister has launched the South African Marine Research and Exploration Forum (SAMREF) at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. SAMREF will facilitate new collaborative offshore studies to increase knowledge of the offshore marine environment related to renewable energy potential, marine biodiversity and ecology, climate change and ecosystem functioning, as well as mitigating the policy conflict between developing oil and gas sector and the development of a low-carbon economy.

Related events


Operation Phakisa helps mussel farm to break out of its shell

Not long ago, the African Olive Trading mussel farm in Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape struggled to compete with big players. It could only deploy a handful of rafts to farm mussels in a five-hectare sea space, and was struggling to access bigger markets to sell its mussels. But assistance from government, as part of Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy has seen the mussel farm break out of its shell to enter the agro-processing space and is now supplying mussels to a wholesaler.

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Seminar: Exploring Opportunities: Towards a National Maritime Cluster

On the 6th and 7th of June 2016, in Port Elizabeth, the Oceans Economy Secretariat, under the Department of Environmental Affairs, hosted the two days Seminar “Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy - Exploring Opportunities: Towards A National Maritime Cluster”, in collaboration with the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria.
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World Oceans Day

World Ocean Day is celebrated each year to highlight the importance of the ocean in our daily lives. It is one of the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. The Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the impacts of human actions on the ocean; and to mobilise and unite the world behind a project of sustainable global ocean management.

Commemorations: • 2016 •2015 • 2014 • 2013 • 2012



Operation Phakisa - Unlocking the Oceans Economy through Aquaculture (a photo book)

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is the lead department for the Oceans Economy Aquaculture focus area and its deliverables. The Lab concluded that South Africa’s aquaculture sector has a high growth potential due to an increasing demand of fish products due to the increasing global population; increasing income by the middle class in developing countries and more awareness on the dietary benefits offered by fish products.

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Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy - Investing and doing business with Africa’s leading ocean economy

This guide outlines the capabilities of South Africa’s ocean economy and sets out useful contacts and information for potential users and investors. South Africa is the strategic African hub for maritime operations in the South-South trade corridor from Asia to the East Coast of South America, and for the connector routes along the East and West coasts of Africa.

»​ read more


Newspaper supplement

In this newspaper supplement learn about Operation Phakisa focusing on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, which could contribute up to R177 billion to the GDP by 2033 and between 800 000 and 1 million direct jobs.

47 detailed initiatives have been identified, which on implementation, will increase the oceans economy's GDP contribution by R20 million and lead to the creation of 22 000 direct new jobs by 2019.

• Page 1 • Page 2 and 3 •​ Page 4

Related multimedia

Oceans Economy television adverts


Television adverts

Oceans Economy and Sustainability

This presentation was presented at the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) at WITS on 10 April 2018.

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President Jacob Zuma’s highlights progress made in respect of the implementation of the Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiatives

Today (08 April 2016) I am here to witness first-hand the progress that has been made within the Port of Port Elizabeth with regards to the implementation of the first phase of Operation Phakisa, the Oceans Economy. Operation Phakisa is a fast results delivery programme that we launched in July 2014 to help us implement the National Development Plan, with the ultimate goal of boosting economic growth and create jobs.

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President Jacob Zuma presents Operation Phakisa - Oceans Economy Progress report. On ocean economy Phakisa, a study conducted recently by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University had quantified the value of our oceans, which indicated that oceans around South Africa were estimated to have potential to contribute R54 billion to GDP and an estimated 316 thousand jobs. Further analysis undertaken in 2013, found that nine sectors of South Africa’s ocean economy could generate an estimated GDP contribution of 129 to 177 billion rand by 2033 and double the number of jobs estimated in 2010. 

President Zuma provides progress on Operation Phakisa

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Related galleries

President Zuma updates stakeholders on Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy Progress, Durban, 06 October 2017
President Jacob Zuma highlights progress made on Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiatives, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, 08 April 2016
The Aquaculture work stream has underlined the high growth potential of South Africa’s aquaculture sector due to increasing demand for fish.
The launch of the first phase of Operation Phakisa, 19 July 2014.

Related videos


Mzansea Protected Marine Areas. A celebration of South Africa's oceans. Published 21 November 2018.

Progress on Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiatives

Aquaculture is one of the SIX FOCUS AREAS of Operation Phakisa that is aimed at enhancing growth in this sector.

SAIMI Corporate Video - Overview.

Progress on Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiatives, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, 08 April 2016, 08 April 2016

The launch of the first phase of Operation Phakisa, 19 July 2014.

The launch of the first phase of Operation Phakisa, 19 July 2014.


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