In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed earlier this week, the parties have committed to exploring potential areas of collaboration, including bunkering.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mandela University will act mainly as the knowledge hub for oceans economy projects, while the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) will assist with the localisation of the project with respect to procurement and other related support services.

‘The oceans economy is one of the identified emerging sectors within the province, coming down from national government as part of the National Development Plan. It is largely untapped and very little has been happening there,’ said ECDC chief executive officer, Ndzondelelo Dlulane.

‘Part of our responsibility, as charged by government is to ensure that this inclusive socioeconomic development and growth also serves into the sea in terms of developing the economy of the ocean.’

Dlulane concluded: ‘We have identified a number of potential economic activities in the maritime environment. We will identify some SMMEs, develop them, support them and ensure that they have the capabilities they require or resources necessary to tap into these economic activities.

As part of the agreement, Mandela University will, among other things, provide the training and research component of projects concluded and co-operate with ECDC in this regard as well as a designated Project Manager for each of the projects to give oversight for the implementation of projects undertaken in the MOU.

Some of the identifiable areas of collaboration include bunkering services, which will see the training of local crews in relevant tanker endorsement certificates training programmes in Port Elizabeth at the University.

Other areas include ship building and harbour development at Port St Johns.