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17th Meeting of IORA

A total of US$50 000 is to be allocated to projects in support of African oceans economy projects under the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy.

“A country’s foreign policy is firmly premised on its domestic priorities, hence, as South Africa, we expect great dividends from linking Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Blue Economy to our domestic Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiative,” Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Photo: SA Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane addressing the 17th Meeting of IORA (DIRCO)

She was addressing the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) 17th Meeting of the Council of Ministers, which was held in Durban.

During the council meeting South Africa assumed the Chair of IORA. "We also welcome the UAE as the incoming Vice Chair, and we look forward to a productive period together as Chair and Vice Chair.  We committed ourselves to ensuring a coordinated and consultative approach going forward," said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

The Council meeting took place under the theme “IORA – uniting the peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East through enhanced cooperation for peace, stability and sustainable development”.  This encompasses South Africa’s view that the Indian Ocean Region should be characterized as a region of peace, stability and development within which to pursue the goal of promoting socio-economic cooperation for the wellbeing and development of the countries and peoples of the Indian Ocean Rim.

The Minister said the meeting was used successfully to advance South Africa’s priorities for its time as IORA Chair from 2017 to 2019, including the African Union’s 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and Agenda 2063.

“As is the tradition when assuming the IORA Chair, South Africa will make a financial contribution of US$250 000, in the form of US$150 000 to assist in the implementation of the IORA Action Plan 2017-2021, particularly for the establishment of the new working groups and the core group.

“Further, the African Agenda is a prominent feature of South Africa’s foreign policy, and we will make funds available for the IORA Special Fund (US$100 000) for pilot development projects aimed at improving the lives of IORA’s poorest people,” Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Half of the funds for the IORA Special Fund will be allocated to the ocean economy projects.  

“We were humbled by the council’s appointment of South Africa’s Dr Nomvuyo Nokwe, South Africa’s former High Commissioner to Mauritius, as the next Secretary General of IORA,” she said.

Dr Nokwe will succeed Ambassador K V Bhagirath, who will conclude his term as Secretary General of the association at the end of the year.

“In this regard, I wish to thank Ambassador Bhagirath for his sterling leadership of the Secretariat over recent years, and we wish Dr Nokwe the best in her new position. We assure her of our support,” Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said.

A highlight of the programme, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said, was a tour of the South African research vessel, the Agulhas II, which has temporarily docked at Durban harbour en route to participating in the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2).  The Indian Ocean contains vast unexplored areas, and the expedition’s research will deepen our knowledge and hopefully greatly contribute towards the blue economy of our respective countries.  This is the first African-led research cruise, that is multi-disciplinary and comprising of scientists and students from South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt. Scientists and students from India, Belgium and Italy will also be joining the expedition.



October/November 2019











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