Boat Building Growing In S. Africa Amid W. African Piracy Concerns

Boat Building Growing In S. Africa Amid W. African Piracy Concerns

Despite taking a hit from the economic downturn, boat-building is growing in South Africa’s Western Cape region as piracy concerns mount in West Africa, according to a report in Business Day Live.

Boat building generates more than $100 million for the Western Cape’s gross domestic product each year and creates jobs for more than 2,500 residents.

Cape Town-based Nautic Africa, a shipbuilding and maritime solutions company, recently landed contracts worth more than $60 million to build multi-role patrol vessels for West African clients.

The 35-meter, fast vessels will be the first in their class designed and built in South Africa, the report says, and the deal will allow Nautic Africa to create about 100 jobs over the next two years.

The majority of offshore threats in territorial waters are from largely indistinguishable craft less than 40 feet long, said Nautic Africa CEO James Fisher.

“The (fast deployable interceptor vessels), which are deployable in minutes, enhance the patrol effectiveness of offshore assets and enable personnel to communicate with small fishing boats and make arrests at sea level,” Fisher said in the Business Day Live report. “This makes policing safer and more effective.”

Fisher said there are plans to expand Nautic Africa’s second West African base in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which would focus exclusively on vessel life-cycle support and servicing. The company also has a base in Takoradi, Ghana.

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To ensure that its workforce had the skills to meet global standards, Nautic Africa said it plans to embark on an aggressive apprenticeship program to train fabricators, welders and general artisans.

Earlier this year, Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, toured boat-building factories in the region, including Nautic Africa.

Winde said while the industry was hit hard by the economic downturn, business leaders are optimistic boat building is on track to grow by 10 percent by 2015. About 60 percent of commercial boat builders in South Africa are based in the Western Cape.