James Fisher, CEO of Nautic Africa. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
James Fisher, CEO of Nautic Africa. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

SHIPBUILDING and maritime solutions company Nautic Africa, based in Cape Town, has agreed to build the first ferries in a series of vessels for Côte d’Ivoire, worth R347m.

The deal forms part of a presidential infrastructure project that aims to reduce urban congestion in Abidjan.

In 2013, Nautic was awarded contracts worth more than R600m to build seven "multirole" patrol vessels for West African clients. The company said at the time the contracts would create about 100 jobs in the Cape Town area and further boost the local boat-building industry.

According to the Western Cape provincial government, boat-building is a competitive and fast-growing sector of the provincial economy. It generates more than R1bn for the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) each year and creates employment for more than 2,500 residents.

The latest agreement to supply vessels to Côte d’Ivoire means Nautic will deliver 18 vessels by September as part of the first phase of the project.

Due to operate in shallow, inland waters, the 27m-long ferries are designed with a maximum water draft of just 1m and air draft of 4m. The catamaran-styled vessel design is guided by the International Association of Classification Societies’ rules to keep passengers safe and comfortable.

With operating speeds of up to 12 knots, the ferries will be fitted with various seating arrangements in 200-seater and 240-seater versions. Configurations for economy-class, as well as business-class, seating will mean some of the vessels cater for business or economy class only, or for a varying percentage of both.

Powered by fuel-efficient twin Volvo Penta D5 propulsion systems, the ferries will deliver operational effectiveness, reliability and cost efficiency, said Nautic Africa’s CEO, James Fisher, on Monday.

Mr Fisher said that the company’s focus on vessel lifecycle would be an advantage in the long-term partnership between itself and transport provider in Côte d’Ivoire, Citrans.

"This is a critically important project for Abidjan that will contribute positively to the economic and social success in Côte d’Ivoire," said Jacques Brummer, CEO of Southern Power Products, a Nautic Africa Group company.

Nautic will ramp up three production lines to meet Citrans’s required delivery schedules. The full scope of the final project is set to deliver between 42 and 50 vessels by 2020.