Your Excellency, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia,
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull of Australia
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government
Honourable Ministers and Heads of Delegations
The Secretary-General of IORA,
Let me convey my sincere appreciation to our gracious host and Chair, President Joko Widodo, for hosting the first Leaders’ Summit of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, marking the 20th anniversary of IORA.
The occasion has a special significance for South Africa because our President Nelson Mandela was one of the pioneers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association. He saw value in bringing us together for the socio-economic development of the people of our region.
The Association remains significant because it is the foremost entity that brings together Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia, through the Indian Ocean.
The vision of President Mandela and other founding leaders still remains valid and relevant to the goals we face, of building inclusive economies, ensuring peace and stability in the region and advancing the socio-economic development of our peoples.
We are bound together by a strategic resource, the Indian Ocean. It possesses a variety of natural resources that are vital for the wellbeing of our peoples, safe trade and environmental stability.
Half of the world’s trade travels through this region.
The IORA’s vast coastline also holds two thirds of the world’s oil reserves, carries half of the world’s container ships and one third of the bulk cargo traffic.
The region also produces goods and services worth over one trillion US dollars, with intra-trade amounting to some seven hundred and seventy seven US billion US dollars. This is a highly significant grouping indeed.
Given that we have the Ocean as a strategic resource, it is only natural that we should invest in the Ocean Economy.
It will help us to diversify our economies from heavy reliance on mineral production and consumption.
Gender empowerment is a key priority for the Association. We must therefore ensure that our programmes and interactions also empower women, especially through the fledgling small and medium ocean economy enterprises.
The position of the IORA in supporting the ocean economy is in line with that of the African Union.
The AU has declared 2015 to 2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans, and the blue economy is now officially referred to as the new frontier of Africa’s Renaissance. It is an essential part of Africa’s 50-year industrialisation and development plan, Agenda 2063.
In South Africa, we have also embraced the Ocean Economy, because it has the potential to contribute more than thirteen billion US Dollars to our economy, and create approximately one million jobs by 2033.
Our Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy programme, modelled on Malaysia’s Big Fast Results economic implementation programme, is already bearing fruit.
It is unlocking the potential of the oceans and creating jobs, generating investment, developing our infrastructure, and protecting our ocean space.
We look forward to cooperating with partners in IORA in harnessing benefits from the ocean economy programme.
We are pleased with the success of the IORA Business Summit that took place yesterday. We look forward to integrating the recommendations into IORA’s work programme and the Concord’s Action Plan.
Acts of terrorism, contested maritime spaces, piracy, drug trafficking and human trafficking, among others, remain issues of concern in the region.
Let us commit ourselves to making the Indian Ocean Rim a zone of peace and stability.
We should also not lose sight of the need to continue the fight against global inequality and economic exclusion, which also pose serious threats to peace and stability in IORA.
South Africa takes over the Chair from Indonesia later this year, and we are committed to work closely with member states and our Dialogue and other Partners, to take the IORA forward.
We will be building on a firm foundation laid by President Widodo and other IORA leaders.
I thank you.