The South African boatbuilding industry is worth more than R1-billion annually and has major potential for the industry to add to the country's economy. Of the eight commercial ports all offering facilities for ship or boat repair and maintenance in South Africa, three are based in the Western Cape (Saldanha Bay, Cape Town and Mossel Bay).
The South African ship-/boatbuilding sector has developed a particular strength in multihull catamarans, with some South African companies seen as global leaders. Additionally, some South African companies have developed capacity in niche segments in commercial and public-sector markets such as ferries, patrol boats, firefighting boats, and cargo and crew transport ships for the oil and gas sector.
South Africa enjoys a reputation for good quality and customisation, as well as competitive labour costs relative to developed-world manufacturers – a significant competitive advantage in labour-intensive processes like hull construction.
The South African boatbuilding industry specialises in the manufacturing of multihull catamarans and is the world’s second largest producer of these boats – 95% of all locally built boats are destined for the export market. As far as the repair and refurbishment market is concerned, it is estimated that only 5% of the vessels and drilling rigs that dock in South African ports annually are serviced by the local sector.
The Western Cape is home to the largest marine manufacturing centre in the country, cementing itself as the hub of the South African boatbuilding industry. While most operations are located in and around Cape Town, boatyards provide much-needed employment in smaller towns such as St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay, Atlantis, Kommetjie, Simon’s Town, Swellendam, George and Knysna.
The dominant firms are large ship-repair and heavy-engineering companies, which directly service oilfield clients. Second-tier companies include smaller engineering and fabrication shops and specialist equipment suppliers. Some companies are focused exclusively on the oil and gas sector, while others service a range of industries.
Cape Town is well-positioned geographically to become a service hub for the West African oil industry.
Please download our 2020 International Trade Mission Plan, visit the market opportunities page, or contact us to get in touch with the dedicated Trade Unit, which is ready to answer any questions.
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The Wesgro Trade Unit provides a free and confidential service to help you establish and grow your business in Cape Town and the Western Cape. Our diverse economy, strong skills base and well-connected infrastructure present many opportunities for foreign buyers seeking high-quality goods and services, as well as exporters looking to expand into the African market.
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