Shipping and ports as drivers of South African economic growth: A systematic literature review


  • Thobekile Mthembu University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Sanele Gumede University of KwaZulu-Natal


Maritime, Economic Growth, Job Creation, South Africa


Seaports are evolving to serve as isolated locations overseeing ships and as pivotal hubs integrated into worldwide supply chains and global transportation networks. This study analyses how shipping and port operations contribute to South Africa’s economic expansion and the creation of jobs in the maritime sector. While South Africa’s productive and rich coastal waters add vast millions to the national economy and support many jobs yearly, the nation continues to underperform in the shipping industry. This study adopted desktop analysis and inductive content analysis to establish how South Africa’s participation in the shipping industry promotes economic growth, how the maritime sector can, directly and indirectly, contribute to job creation, and the correlation between South Africa’s port volumes and economic growth. The study focused on reputable government and scientific publications, the full texts of relevant articles, and shipping and port activity reports.

The main findings are that, by positioning itself as the most preferred maritime partner in Africa, South Africa’s shipping and port activities can contribute to expanding the national economy and creating more employment in the maritime industry. South Africa must, nonetheless, leverage the prevailing participative covenants with other shipping nations, skills training, and full participation in maritime logistics, value chains, on and offshore support, vessel, and port operations for the shipping and port activities to effectively contribute to the expansion of the South African economy and the creation of jobs in the maritime sector. To successfully compete with other shipping nations, the ports in South Africa require contemporary technological infrastructure. Improved research and assessment of innovation, financing, and investment activities will aid the nation in ascertaining the most capable ocean sectors, subsectors, and shipping projects to increase private sector investment.

Author Biography

Thobekile Mthembu, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Unit for Maritime Law and Maritime Studies,

School of Accounting, Economics and Finance;

University of KwaZulu-Natal



How to Cite

Mthembu, T., & Gumede, S. (2024). Shipping and ports as drivers of South African economic growth: A systematic literature review. Moses Kotane Institute Journal, 1(2). Retrieved from