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ECDC looks at accelerating partnerships with SMMEs in oceans economy and automotive sector

02 September 2021



The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) Board Chairperson Mr Vuyani Jarana and the Chief Executive Officer Mr Ayanda Wakaba concluded a working visit to four businesses, in Kenton-on-Sea and in Gqeberha on Tuesday, 31st August 2021. These working visits marked the tail end of the ECDC’s stakeholder consultation for the Corporation’s long range strategic review process.

The ECDC strategy review consultation process involved stakeholders from various sectors, including those that have investment interests in the province, the provincial and local government partners, organised business communities, the public and clients of the ECDC. Thus it took into consideration the interests of the stakeholders to ensure that the strategy review process is in line with the spirit of the South African constitution.

Some of the key sectors that the ECDC is looking at to play a key strategic role in rebuilding the provincial economy are; oceans economy, automotive and agro-processing sectors. The working visits with Eyethu Fishing, Knysna Oyster, Jendamark Automation in Gqeberha and Sweet Water Hydroponics in Kenton-on-Sea looked at creating partnerships that will enable meaningful participation in the ocean economy and agro-processing as these companies have the expertise, technology and infrastructure that can be resourceful in building commercial models that can be made available to the SMMEs and enable their active participation in the economy.

Eyethu Fishing is a subsidiary of Nomzamo Fishing which is one of the subsidiary companies of the African Pioneer Group, an investment company with 100% of its ownership belonging to a historically dis-advantaged owners. Eyethu Fishing was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 due to the drop in the international and domestic demand. Eyethu Fishing however has since recovered from exporting 200 tons of different fish species in 2020, to exporting 400 tons over the last eight months period.

Knysna Oyster is another one of the companies met with, specialising in fresh cultivated oysters that are produced in Algoa Bay with a rich history dating back to 1949. Knysna Oyster is one of the beneficiaries of the Job Stimulus Fund which was used to save 35 jobs after the company was also negatively affected by the prohibition of exports in March 2020 and the drop in the international markets’ demand. Knysna has an excellent HACCP quality system to oyster production chain which was discussed and benchmarked during the visits.

With the Eastern Cape having the longest coast line in South Africa, Vuyani Jarana said that “for the longest period of time, this endowment has been under leveraged in terms of benefiting the communities and small businesses.” He further submits that “the ECDC intends to support small businesses to be able to participate meaningfully in the Eastern Cape economy by underpinning them with infrastructure, commercial business models and support, as observed in the companies visited”.

Acknowledging the growing demand for goods and services as the African population increases, Mr Ayanda Wakaba points out a need to move from a concentrated economy to a distributed economy through platforms that enable accessing of opportunities in the various sectors. Skills and expertise such as those acquired by Dr Gallow who heads research at Sweet Water Hydroponics that is making headways in medical cannabis globally, and the innovation and technology Jendamark Automation is working on for global markets are ground breaking hence these partnerships are crucial. Looking at the constrains in the fiscus, Mr Ayanda Wakaba noted that investing in enabling economic infrastructure and digitised platforms will create jobs and bring business opportunities closer to the people. Further, Wakaba highlighted the need to pursue partnerships and commercial sound business models to grow the Eastern Cape SMMEs.


Closing the working visit in Gqeberha at the Airlift Routes Launch where CemAir introduced new routes between Gqeberha, East London and Bloemfontein, Mr Wakaba noted, the achievement by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and key partners to launch new routes in these tough times for airlines, tourism and business in general. He also applauded the Nelson Mandela Bay Multi Stakeholder Route Promotion Project Task Team which was formed with an objective to increase inbound air traffic into the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the province saying the model of multi stakeholder workstream needs to be maintained to stimulate the Eastern Cape economy.

The revised ECDC long range strategy is planned to be finalised by the end of the third quarter of this financial year.

Issued by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation