The Blue Economy Champion Awards will be back for a 2022/23 edition with nominations opening at the beginning of September and the final winner being announced within the first half of 2023. If you are intrested in sponsoring the next edition, click on the button below. 

Blue Economy Champion 21\22 

Congratulations to our finalists and overall winner. Watch the video for highlights from our Winner's Webinar.

Thank you to our judges: 

  • Samantha Montes
  • Nomcebo Sibisi
  • Pumla Makubalo

The Blue Economy Champion Award 2022/23 

Thanks to the overwhelming response to the first Blue Economy Champion Award, we will be hosting another round for 2022/23 that is likely to kick off in September 2022.  The format will change slightly to allow for a selection of categories that will aim to recognise a wider scope of influencers within the maritime sectors. 


We are looking for someone in the industry that is well-respected by their peers.


We are looking for someone in the industry that has significant expertise.


We are looking for someone in the industry that takes the time to provide mentorship.


We are looking for someone in the industry that is able to influence awareness.

Thank you for all of your votes.  

We are aiming to recognise those individuals who are influencing the positive trajectory of South Africa’s Blue Economy by promoting awareness of the maritime sectors; developing or mentoring new talent; working as an activist to improve the maritime landscape for new entrants; working outside of their job description to build capacity or grow the opportunities in the sector, and/or recognised as a maritime expert in their field with significant influence and following.


Quality candidates highlight the maritime talent available.

Compiling this list of profiles made it abundantly clear that there is some excellent new blood coming into the industry that are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work on working towards a growing and sustainable maritime industry. 
While we acknowledge that our initial schedule was blown out of the water, we are happy to be able to present these candidates. 
We have completed the public voting phase of the Award Programme and received more than 2,000 votes.  Thank you for taking the time to vote. 

After the public voting close, our judges will undertake the final adjudication to announce the three finalists. 
Once these two phases are complete we will provide final information relating to the announcement of the winner of the inaugural Blue Economy Champion Award



Maritime Educator

Aubrey's commitment to maritime education and awareness is reflected in his teaching career which sees him now based at Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simonstown.

He has earned the respect of learners both at Simonstown School and at Lawhill and is a consummate professional whose ability to navigate complexity is clear.

He is a role model to many and should be recognised for the leader he is in his own right. He will no doubt continue to influence young people for generations to come.

He is also a known contributor to maritime conversations having been asked to join a number of webinar platforms to speak on behalf of the next maritime generation.

He is certainly an asset to the future of the maritime industry.

Maritime Entrepreneur

Benny Bhali aims to actively lead the development of the maritime industry as a pioneer in the industry.

He is particularly interested in addressing issues affecting SMMEs as well as the transformation of the industry to include youth, women and military veterans within the blue economy.

He is a co-founding member of the South African Maritime Business Forum; Founding member of the Western Cape Maritime Cluster, Board Member of SABBEX, Honorary Member of Royal Cape Yacht Club and also a Managing Director of Project Partnerz.

He is always available to provide input in maritime forums and actively uses his LinkedIn profile to promote activities in the industry and inform the maritime conversation.


Brian Ingpen is often referred to as the “father of the maritime industry” and the description is certainly a fitting one as it encompasses his role in establishing the Lawhill Maritime Centre and mentoring generations of youngsters into the sector.

He is a wise, patient, interesting and dedicated educator. Developing an interest himself in the maritime world from a young age, he is well-aware of the impact this can have on the youth.

He has written a number of maritime-related books and continues to produce a weekly column in a Cape newspaper keeping the general public interested in what is happening in the ports.

Brian’s contribution was recently recognised by the President when he received a National Order last year. 

It is no wonder that Brian is regularly called upon to provide his input and constructive advice in maritime education forums.


Researcher / sector expert

Denys Reva is passionate about the maritime industry and his research on various challenges within the maritime sector shows his dedication to improve policies not only in South Africa but the African continent as well.

His outstanding research on the industry also means that he is often the first choice for NATO, INTERPOL and UNODC to speak at their events.

Denys is also a gender champion in the industry and he seeks ways to highlight the plight of various people across the industry. He is practical with his recommendations and truly believes that Africa's development is closely linked to healthy and productive oceans. The concept of blue economy is not just an abstract concept, but something that can ensure prosperity for all African people.

The research Denys is conducting on Blue Economy and the maritime sector is ground-breaking and strikes to the heart of overcoming challenges.

Active on a number of social media platforms, his work is accessible and often sparks debates.

Maritime policy

Dumisani Ntuli has been at the forefront of maritime policy in South Africa for a considerable time and has become a critical part of the development of the required policy framework aimed at unlocking the immense potential of the Blue Economy.

If you follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter – you will understand that he almost eats, sleeps and breathes the maritime sectors.

Working within the Department of Transport for more than 20 years, he has helped keep the sector on the department’s agenda – bringing valuable insight about the inner workings of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), having been the Vice Chair of the Council for a period of time as well as the Alternate Permanent Representative of the country to IMO.  

His most recent contribution to the industry was the development of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy – a living document that continues to aim to remain relevant to the development of a cohesive maritime sector.

Pre-COVID he was actively on the road delivering the document to sectors across the country and explaining the intricate content in explicit detail.

Maritime Educator

Edward Snyders played a significant role in educating cadets at Cape Peninsula University of Technology for over 20 years with many national and international students passing through his door. He was Head of Department at the Maritime Studies before retiring in 2018. While in the department he was active on many university committees, boards and external evaluation panels and has formed invaluable linkages with maritime university’s abroad helping promote the country’s training capacity.

He was instrumental in the initiation of the Eastern Cape Maritime Awareness Programme (EC-MAP) in 2004 and the first dedicated Marine Engineering programme in 2007.
He also spearheaded the implementation of  professional degrees, approved by the Department of Higher Education, viz. the Bachelor of Nautical Science (BNautSc) and Bachelor of Marine Engineering (BMarEng), a first for Africa.

He, himself spent a portion of his career at sea, having been one of the first cadets of colour enlisted by Safmarine in 1977.

Since retiring he has given his time to Lawhill Maritime Centre teaching Nautical Science and playing a significant role to educate the youth.

Maritime Activist 

Eugenio Michael Del Fava, known as Gino  within the Freight Forwarding and Clearing sector is a stalwart of the logistics and sector in which he has been involved for the past 45 years.

He has dedicated his vast knowledge and experience
to grooming and empowering
newcomers from the previously disadvantaged communities. Gino’s commitment to skills’ transfer stems from his realisation that the industry was not transformed.

Unafraid to speak his mind, Gino will tackle a topic in a public forum with gusto and enthusiasm – often prompting speakers to answer difficult questions.

Among his many achievements in the industry, Gino was the Founder of the South Africa Maritime Business Forum (SAMBF), which has committed to the implementation of the government’s cabinet approved Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy. He has also committed to the implementation of the 2019 Women in Maritime Industry declaration.

Gino holds the position of Chairman of Freight Logistics SA which is engaged in capacitating emerging indigenous customs clearing and freight forwarding agents.


Maritime Entrepreneur

With a proven track record in the maritime engineering sector having worked for Barloworld, Southern African Shipyards and DCD Group, Jo Anne van ventured out on her own to create the only black female-owned business in the industry.

JA Van Wyk Consulting is currently contracted to Elgin Brown and Hamer where her understanding of costing and managing engineering projects is added advantage to the shipyard.
JVWC is raising the bar in almost every way. The professionalism and dedication within the company is noteworthy.

Having founded the company at a challenging time in the sector, Jo Anne has helped employ skilled artisans that had been affected by closures and the downturn in the industry.

With the aim of proving herself in a predominantly male domain, she ensures that JVWX goes beyond what is expected while believe in empowering the people in the communities that they work in.

Maritime Unifier

Kgomotso Mogale has a wide knowledge of the maritime sector and he is a maritime activist who remains very passionate about transformation and skills development across the sector. 
He is currently taking part in the development of the National Oceans Economy Master Plan that is led by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. In this process, he has participated in more than five sub groups and leads a group that focuses on Support Services of the Marine Transport .

His leadership capabilities have come to the fore as Executive Chairman of the South African Maritime Business Forum as well as Freight Logistics South Africa. His aim is to break down the silos that continue to exist in the maritime sectors and help create one unifying voice. As such he has been outspoken on this topic at a number of maritime forums.

He is a patient and resilient advocate of Transformation in the Maritime sector in South Africa. He has wide knowledge of the maritime industry as well as its contribution and position in the South African Economy.

Marine Conservationist

Lewis Pugh is an endurance swimmer and an UN Patron of the Oceans. He is the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world. He was also the first to swim across the North Pole, and the first to swim the length of the English Channel.
In 2016 he established the Lewis Pugh Foundation with a mission to preserve our oceans. To date they have helped protect over 2 million km2 of vulnerable seas, but their ultimate ambition is to see 30% of the world’s oceans protected by 2030. So far over half of the world's nations have signed up, in what amounts to one of the largest conservation drives in history.

Lewis is also a regular speaker at corporates and events where he shares his conservation message and has written books on subjects related to swimming and the ocean. He has a wide audience across the globe.

As a highly respected maritime lawyer and Environmental Activist, Lewis has certainly not only challenged every non-conformist sector within the maritime legislation - but set an extremely high “bar” for maritime nations to comply with in protecting their oceans.

Sailing Awareness

Lindani Mchunu immediately strikes one as someone who is willing to push his own boundaries and work to achieve his own as well as the upliftment of others.

Told to prove that he was interested in becoming a sailor – he embarked on a course of action that would take him across many oceans only to return to Cape Town where he now introduces sailing to the disadvantaged communities at the Royal Cape Yacht Club. – giving them a taste of the sea and what it can offer. In this role he undertakes fundraising efforts to keep the project alive.
Lindani is changing the future of sailing through his commitment to training and developing black sailors and also representing the economic interests of the yachting/boating sector as well as raising the profile of South African boat building expertise and capacity. He is an ambassador for the RCYC where he is influencing transformation of the Club itself, membership and the Academy.

But he continues to grow in the industry, learning the ropes of brokerage and being invited to join the board of the South African Boat Builders Export Council.

A frequent speaker at maritime events, Lindani is eloquent and passionate about his commitment to the sailing sector.


Maritime Advocator

Londy Ngcobo rose to prominence when she became Africa’s first female Dredge Master. Now, under the brand of Blaqmermaid, she has devoted herself to promoting maritime awareness as well as being part of the process of unlocking the African Ocean’s Economy. 

She is incredibly active on social media platforms making the maritime sectors accessible to a younger audience.
Londy Ngcobo is a former Maritime Compliance Manager for Transnet National Ports Authority. She is the Founder of Global Maritime Youth and Chief Executive of Womaritime Experts, a consulting firm in the shipping industry. 

Recognised for her signature fashion statements that often have a nautical theme, Londy has been a TEDx speaker where she spoke about the challenges of being a woman at sea. Her eloquence and ability to convey the maritime message has made her a sought after media personality.

She neither asks permission nor seeks approval to get out there and do what brings her joy - building value in her brand and in her business. She raises tough issues, offers self reflection and knows no limits in future aspiration. Above all, it is the responsibility she feels as a role model to support future generations that makes her stand out from others. In a conservative, hierarchical, male dominated industry - Londy remains a bright light and should not be underestimated.

Maritime Specialist / mentor

After noting and experiencing the decline of seafarer welfare for seafarers at sea – a situation that became particularly untenable in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic – Makhosi Mbokazi launched a welfare platform to cater for their needs.

Her career was officially launched in 2016 when she became a deck officer at SAMSA Special Projects in Cape Town. Since then she has risen through the ranks working at Jasper Offshore, Maersk and Denmarine.   She is now a Chief Officer Unlimited – Master 500 grt.
She is a trailblazer, first female ship Superintendent/ ACSO/ ADPA in the private sector in the industry.

She has worked in several sectors in the industry both ashore and on board. From container ships, offshore supply, oil and gas – and is credited as the only South African woman to sail as a chief officer in a foreign going drillship.

It’s the grit and determination that saw her succeed that she shares with a group of global maritime youth.

In addition, she is the recipient of an award from Women offshore in America for promoting the industry and supporting young seafarers/aspiring seafarers while pursuing her career. She also uses marine crew welfare to target and discuss issues facing the industry as a whole apart from seafarers welfare.

Oceans' Economy strategist

Ntsiki Mbono is an Oceans Economy Advisor in the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  In this role she was actively tasked with driving the Secretariat for the Oceans Economy Master Planning process. She works across all the different sub sectors of the Oceans Economy and has an acute grasp of the issues, needs and successes of the maritime sector.

Coordinating the various working groups and small teams, Ntsiki has been tireless in her support of entities -  providing Secretariat functions and guidance to the Chairs of the many different groupings, working long hours and weekends.

She is passionate about the sector and has worked in the background since the inception of Operation Phakisa. Ntsiki really deserves recognition for the sheer level of hard work she has put in and the grace with which she handles the complexities and personalities in the industry. Despite the challenges faced by the implementation of Operation Phakisa, Ntsiki continues to champion the potential of the Oceans’ Economy and has represented the sector at Parliament Portfolio Committee meetings.

Ntsiki was also invited to join the panel of adjudicators of the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition.

Entrepreneur / Mentor

Currently a student of maritime law, Olwethu Salayi Nqoto’s background is in the freight forwarding and customs clearing sector. As a 35 go-getter, she is running a farming business as well as a freight forwarding customs clearance company.

Understanding the opportunities that exist for those willing to knuckle down, she is passionate about mentoring the youth in rural areas and townships. Olwethu even provides business development advice for free in marine services – and has taken on the task of mentoring adults that are keen to become exporters.

She also finds the time to co-host a radio programme on Keith Ngesi Radio every Thursday where she recently engaged listeners on the topic of fish farming many of whom had never realised that this opportunity existed and that a substantial market for farmed fish – also distinguishing between mariculture and aquaculture. She highlighted the option to start small and build up essentially making the opportunity accessible.

With a Facebook following of over 60,000 people, the radio station is an ideal platform for Olwethu to spread the maritime message.


Sailing Awareness

As the director of the Ocean Sailing Association of Southern Africa, Pete Sherlock and his team advocated to achieve resolutions for yachties under the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the severe immigration restrictions imposed on cruisers in 2020 arising from the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, the OSASA team was successful in negotiating entry for foreign cruisers previously denied access into South Africa and around 80 such boats were successfully processed.

By creating an online portal at, OSASA has been instrumental in facilitating the pre-arrival notification documentary requirements that the government imposed for such entry. During these negotiations OSASA established a strong relationship with the South African Government and this is being maintained on an ongoing basis. “That an ordinary citizen of this country could get Government to recognise and remedy an issue shows that anyone can make a difference,” he said in an interview after the successful intervention.

Pete is the South African Sailing Councillor for Cruising and serves on the Royal Cape Yacht Clubs general committee as the Cruising representative which he sees as an under-represented sub sector of the sailing community.

Maritime Collaborator

Prasheen Maharaj is the CEO of SanDock Austral and has demonstrated his ability to get to the core of issues facing the maritime engineering sector over the years.

He is extremely active on social media platforms where he is not afraid to tackle contentious issues. Prasheen is a prolific public speaker and has represented his country, Industry and company in a number of international and local symposia and conferences.

A thought leader within the industry Prasheen has been instrumental in returning Shipbuilding back into the South African maritime economy. He has refused to accept the status quo and has been active critic of TNPA’s weakness’s but has also applauded SOE’s when they get it right.

He is known as a Conscious Capitalist and is a firm believer that business should contribute to the greater good of society. He sits on the boards of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, Ethekwini Maritime Cluster and Aerospace Marine Defence Industry Body.

He champions the notion of collaboration, policy alignment and technology for the growth of the industry sector.  

Maritime Go-To Guy

Ravi Naicker is the current chair of the Interim Incident Management organisation (IMOrg) of South Africa. He is regularly requested to present at forums locally and internationally.  And, his LinkedIn profile refers to him as the Maritime GO-TO guy.

The IMOrg is an organisation to ensure South Africa's readiness in case of a shipping casualty or offshore oil and gas incident. The model used for casualty response is the Incident Management system which is used in most countries. He has also chaired four industry - Govt task teams for oil spill response exercises. The most recent one was in March 2021 with approximately some 100 participants. Ravi will chair the planning team for  a full scale exercise in 2022.

He is also South Africa's representative on the Benguela Current Commission with Angola, Namibia and South Africa has participating countries. In November 2021 he chaired the task team for Ballast water management and environment protection.

As a pioneer of black maritime operations management in South Africa and a specialist speaker, Captain Ravi is knowledgeable on all matters relating to marine navigation, maritime security and marine environment protection.

In 2010 he received the SAMSA CEO's Ambassador award for the Western Indian Ocean Marine highway project.


Ocean Activist

Shannon Hampton concomitantly displays both the commitment and ability to influence and inspire increased custodianship towards our oceans. She actively and continuously engaged and invokes an enthusiasm towards collective transboundary oceans protection engagement.
Her influence spans a broad network of decision makers as well as the citizenry that all help in creating and improving the drive towards a blue economy – and she is a frequent panellist at events and discussions. She not only focuses on the South African domain, but it includes the rest of Southern Africa, Western Indian Ocean and Africa as a whole.
She has spent time volunteering on the Namibian Dolphin Project in Lüderitz and Walvis Bay and as a front of house volunteer at the Two Oceans Aquarium. She enjoys tutoring students and environmental education and is hoping to expand the outreach work that IOI-SA does in schools in South Africa.
She has proven herself to be a stalwart and champion of the Blue Economy Drive – using her presence on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to promote awareness for sustainable ocean governance.


Maritime Activist

With a wide knowledge of the maritime sectors, Simphiwe Bele is considered to be a maritime activist that is passionate about transformation and skills development.

His position as the KwaZulu Natal Provincial Chapter Chair for the South African Maritime Business Forum allows him to pursue his goal of driving the transformation of the maritime industry within the province.

Outspoken and an excellent communicator, he is nevertheless willing to continuously learn.

He has undertaken further studies at the Moses Kotane Institute where he enrolled in an Import and Export Practioner course through Global Maritime Law Solutions. He has also completed his Passport in Coastal Maritime Tourism through Moses Kotane Institute
Simphiwe has been a staunch supporter of the African trade movement and is well versed in policy framework and how it effects the implementation of sustainable and social efficient trade frameworks. 

He advocates for solutions to maritime bottlenecks and often offers solutions during stakeholder forums that he attends.

He is actively involved in the industry and has participated in Blue Ocean Economy SWOT Analysis meetings.

Simphiwe Lawrence Bele is a person who commits to his work, he is very passionate about achieving goals and not excuses. He is considerate towards other people's feelings and works very well with people.

Maritime Diversity

Unathi Sonti's has a commitment to highlighting the issues facing the maritime industry. As the Chairperson of the Maritime Business Chamber, he aims to add value to his members by opening up the industry to those who may not previously have had the opportunity in the Eastern Cape.

Establishing the Maritime 101 sessions during 2021, these were well planned, well executed and involved insightful panellists who were able to share knowledge and experience. His commitment to building a credible organisation that has an important role to play is highly commendable and his professionalism is well recognised.

The role he plays in holding stakeholders to account for inclusion in the industry makes an impact in the Algoa Bay area in particular and in the Eastern Cape in general. He is a strong advocate of localisation

These sentiments and commitments were voiced by Unathi at the launch of the Maritime Business Chamber (then Eastern Cape Maritime Business Chamber) in 2019. “We are sending a strong voice to those who always tell us that the sea is an international space and that they don’t need to comply too any B-BBEE Codes. If government departments together with SAMSA, Transnet and the Ports Regulator of South Africa are not going to take action, we are going to regulate this industry ourselves,” he said at the time.

He keeps himself abreast of current trends and opportunities in the maritime sectors through constant engagement with stakeholders and participation in maritime forums and events. Unafraid to go against the popular opinion, Unathi led the MBC to protest and petition against the government’s decision to revoke the Karpowership generation project.

Maritime Special Projects

Vanessa Davidson  has a vast and varied knowledge of several maritime sectors and has been involved in advocacy, research and consultancy all with the aim of improving the knowledge and opportunities that exist within the Oceans’ Economy.
Well-connected across many maritime sectors, she is grounded in her ability to step up to the podium to make sense of issues that are challenging development. She continues to represent herself and the industry sectors on international platforms to the benefit of the local industry sectors.

In fact, she seems to have boundless amounts of energy as she dons several hats within different entities.

She is the Special Projects Manager at Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone, but is also a founding member of Blue Cape and runs her own consulting firm.
Previously an integral part of the South African Boat Builders Export Council, her workaholic tendencies benefited the industry at a time when they needed her most – the Covid 19 pandemic. SABBEX’s managed to negotiate a rapid return-to-work by drawing up workplace protocols, at a time when many sectors remained shut down.

And if that is not enough, she was unanimously elected at the Chairperson of the International Marine Certification Institute (IMCI) in 2019 – the first woman to take up the position.

Maritime Education

Zenzile Gwamanda is the Managing Director of EThekwini Maritime Cluster where she has excelled in driving multi-stakeholder collaborations, skills development and the inclusive participation of SMEs within the ocean’s economy. In 2016 she was appointed Chair of Maritime Studies unit advisory board at Durban University of Technology and has assisted with access to simulator training.
In addition, she has assisted Mangosuthu University of Technology develop a Postgraduate Diploma in Ports and Harbour Engineering which will be introduced in 2023.  

As such, she is immersed in the maritime education and training sector where she actively addresses existing challenges including the need to develop maritime teacher capacitation intervention. To this end she has facilitated a partnership to develop a maritime teacher qualification.

With five maritime career exhibitions under her belt, Zenzile is passionate about youth development and runs a graduate placement programme that has placed 50 graduates annually. In partnership with TETA, she has successfully sent five graduates to the World Maritime University. She has also teamed up with TPT to run a maritime incubation programme that saw 19 businesses emerge

She has also successfully started aquaculture projects with unemployed youth from several rural areas.

In addition, she has introduced 15 unemployed youth to boatbuilding and they have successfully built their first boats from scratch, and are now preparing to start engine installation. She has recently partnered with UKZN supporting five post graduate students to do maritime industry research to address existing sector challenges. Further efforts include the launch of a programme to offer training in swimming and rowing for disadvantaged learners.
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