South Africa is to tap Norway’s extensive maritime experience to help it unlock the potential of its own “blue economy”. This will include learning from Norway’s expertise, in the off-shore oil and gas industry, in shipping and in fishing, especially fish farming.
Deputy International Relations and Cooperation Minister Luwellyn Landers and his Norwegian counterpart Hans Brattskar have agreed to explore these and other areas of maritime co-operation. They met in Pretoria as co-chairs of the second high-level consultation between South Africa and Norway last week.
Brattskar said several Norwegian maritime companies were already doing business with South Africa and he met some of them later in Cape Town as well as other businesses, including clean energy and IT companies. All were interested in doing more business with South Africa but the maritime sector was a special focus.
Landers said, “Norway has got enormous expertise in this particular field, so it just makes sense for us to piggyback on that expertise for what we refer to as our blue economy strategy, which is the exploitation of the oceans which surround South Africa.”
The ocean economy has been identified by the National Development Plan as one of the key drivers to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality and President Jacob Zuma launched the blue economy strategy earlier this year.
Brattskar said his government was also in the middle of developing a new phase in its maritime strategy – similar to the blue economy – which it would present in the first half of next year.
“It will be quite comprehensive about looking into the future, on what kinds of skills are needed, what kind of training is needed – what we need to do to develop our huge maritime clusters which are very important. “
Norway had developed, from scratch, into an enormous petroleum-producing country over the past 45 years. But even if South Africa did not discover commercial reserves of oil or gas, Brattskar agreed it could learn from Norway’s experience of creating offshore services clusters to help it exploit business opportunities in servicing the booming off-shore oil and gas producing industries in other African countries.
Norway’s ambassador to South Africa Trine Skymoen said the two countries were still in the process of identifying the specific areas of maritime co-operation. But skills development would be one of them.
She said while in Cape Town Brattskar and his delegation had visited the former Antarctic ship Agulhas 1, now being used to train South African sea cadets. Norwegian ship owners had been so impressed by the quality of education the cadets were receiving that they had recruited them for further training on their own ships.
Another priority area for sharing Norwegian maritime expertise was aquaculture. She said much of Norway’s salmon production was from off-shore fish farms and South Africa was keen to learn the technology to establish its own fish farms.
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