The South African Boatbuilders Export Council (SABBEX) has welcomed positive signals towards marine manufacturing in the wake of the country's recent far-reaching political transition.

New South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, inaugurated last week in the country's national assembly in Cape Town, has repeatedly stressed the need to rejuvenate the country's manufacturing sector. Ramaphosa on Monday night announced several Cabinet changes, among them a new Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, widely expected to prioritise economic growth.

SABBEX this week welcomed the “more positive political sentiment” and hoped it would translate into positive impacts. SABBEX spokesperson Vanessa Davidson said the upbeat mood coincided with greater 'maturity' in the local boatbuilding market.

“Compliance with global standards and better business practice from an international perspective are two areas brand SA has improved on in the last ten years,” she said. “There has been a lot of government support and awareness in the last five years and that is translating into renewed ‘local’ interest in the sector. People want to know how to do business in the boatbuilding space and what capabilities and networks they need.

“My gut feeling is that there is some ‘imminent’ tipping point for this interest to translate into solid business opportunities. Those who have been ‘on the periphery’ gaining information and industry knowledge are better equipped each year to become players in the market,” Davidson said.

Other recent positive government interventions include a successful small harbour upgrade project that includes salvaging dozens of wrecks blocking important waterways, and a plan to rejuvenate Cape Town Harbour's port precinct with a range of commercial activities.

South Africa's outgoing Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba last week delivered a pro-business budget speech that saw the Rand strengthen against major international currencies.