The development and operations of the Port of Durban and City are interrelated at various levels. To date, port planning and city planning have been undertaken in isolation of each other. To achieve a common vision for the sustainable development of the Port and City in the future, and to ensure their successful co-existence, joint planning is essential.

The Port of Durban is South Africa’s largest port in terms of value of cargo handled as well as number of vessel arrivals per annum. It is estimated that the port and its related industries contribute in excess of 20% of Durban’s GDP. Durban is approximately 55% of the KwaZulu-Natal GDP, which in turn is approximately 15% of the South African GDP. Thus, in round figures the Maritime Industry in Durban contributes between 1.5 and 2.0 percent of the national GDP. Depending on which sub-sectors are included in the estimate, this points towards a contribution to the local GDP of between R25bn and R35bn.

However, Durban Port’s strategic role is what is important. Due to its geographic location and being a natural deep water port, it is the most accessible port with sufficient capacity to cater for the needs of the county’s industrial heartland in Gauteng. Growth in international trade will be a cornerstone of SA’s future economic success and Durban Port will play a key role in facilitating this success. It is geographically placed to fulfil this role more cost-efficiently than any other Southern African port.

The Port and Maritime Sector together unquestionably are the main economic drivers of the Durbaneconomy. The eThekwini Municipal Area is highly dependent on the sector and its ability to compete internationally for its economic growth and well-being. It is critical that the port and the inter-related shipping and cargo sectors are efficiently capitalised and managed in order that their cost structures are competitive by international standards. The country is heavily dependent on international trade both inwards and outwards, and as such it is critical that Durban’s port is recognised as an international trade gateway.         

To achieve this recognition it must consistently operate at the better end of international standards.