This was her key message at the end of a whistle-stop visit to the Eastern Cape this past week to make an assessment of impacts, as well as identify gaps in economic and investment programmes under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched in the area.

Joining senior officials of the Eastern Cape government, the projects visited included the fledgling bunkering services recently established off-shore in the precinct of the port of Port Elizabeth, the planned relocation of a fuel tank farm and a manganese ore dump currently settled at the port of Port Elizabeth, as well as energy generation investment projects currently underway at the Coega Industrial Development adjacent the Ngqurha deep water, also near Port Elizabeth.

After visiting the projects on Wednesday morning, Ms Siweya described the developments as showing good progress while acknowledging potential challenges.

Matters of express concern raised, she said, revolved around poverty of legislation governing the new bunkering services, but also shipping especially terms of tax legislation, and "the absence of financial support and incentives to encourage investment in the sector."

In addition, constant interaction between government, business and civil society to ensure proper alignment was crucial to success, she noted.

Ms Siweya said the country’s maritime economic was among sectors identified under the National Development Plan (2030) as key to economic development, and deliberate focus on it was necessary.

To this end, an inter-ministerial committee established in 2015, which had since become dysfunctional, would be revived.

In addition, she said, it had become clear that there was a need for financial support of businesses in the sector in the form of a maritime fund.

In 2018, the President spoke about a stimulus package, and there were departments that received stimulus packages. We are going to follow up on that to establish how far they are… what has been done with the funding,

...she said.