Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma has called on the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to invest more in the ocean economy.
He said this will unlock the potential of the oceans and create jobs, generate investment, develop infrastructure and protect the ocean space.
“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,” said President Zuma on Tuesday.
The President was speaking at the IORA leaders’ two-day summit, which is attended by over 20 countries bordering the Indian Ocean, in Indonesian.
The Indian Ocean possesses a variety of natural resources that are vital for 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 US $1 trillion, with intra-trade amounting to some $777 billion. President Zuma said this is highly significant hence, the group should harness the benefits.
“Gender empowerment is a key priority for the [IORA]. We must therefore ensure that our programmes and interactions also empower women, especially through the fledgling small and medium ocean economy enterprises.”
He said 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, government has also embraced the Ocean Economy because it has the potential to contribute more than $13 billion to the economy, and create approximately one million jobs by 2033.