President Jacob Zuma says more innovative ways need to be developed to use oceans sustainably for food, transport, trade and other activities.
He addressed the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Business Summit in Jakarta, in Indonesia, on Monday.
The summit brings together business leaders, communities and governments of the region to share ideas and exchange views on how to grow and develop economies sustainably, as well as to network.
The summit is held under the theme “IORA: Building Partnerships for Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth”.
“As business leaders explore various opportunities, fundamentally, we must ensure profitable use of what binds us together as members of the IORA, the Indian Ocean.
“The ocean is a valuable resource and holds great potential to become the key driver of the Indian Ocean Rim economies. The ocean has historically been a powerful vehicle for global trade and commerce. It has also always been a significant source of food and energy,” said the President.
The leaders of the IORA have adopted the Blue or Ocean Economy as a top priority for generating employment and ensuring sustainability in business and economic models.
South Africa has also decided to actively promote economic development from the oceans since 2014.
“We launched a programme called Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy, bringing together business, labour, academia and government to intensively work together to develop a national programme to further develop and expand the country’s ocean economy,” said the President.
It is estimated that the Blue Economy in South Africa could contribute around $13 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and create a million jobs by 2033.
The priority sectors identified within this programme are marine manufacturing and marine transport, aquaculture, oil and gas exploration, marine protection and governance.
To date, the President said, the overall progress of South Africa’s Ocean Economy drive includes unlocking investments amounting to more than R7 billion in the Ocean Economy.
“This has created close to seven thousand jobs in various sectors.”
He said the Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy strategy is well aligned to the priorities of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
“We look forward to exploring further and deeper cooperation in these areas. There is a need for us to not only optimise and develop country ocean economy strategies. We must also appreciate the need for regional initiatives within our sub-regions of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.”
The African Union has declared 2015 to 2025 as the Decade of the African Seas and Oceans. The strategic context of this initiative is the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy, aimed at improving maritime conditions and benefits for the respective countries.
The President said African maritime strategy is based on the realisation that the continent can generate enormous wealth from Africa’s seas and oceans.
“We can ensure job creation, food security and enhanced dignity for all our citizens and future generations.
“Going forward, we call for increased and more strategic cooperation between member states and our dialogue partners to find efficient and more innovative ways of sharing knowledge, expertise and capacity building in the Blue Economy priority areas.
“This includes areas such as seaport and shipping, offshore oil, gas and mineral exploration, fisheries and aquaculture, as well as marine renewable energy.”
Challenges such as the difficulty in accessing funding, poor access to markets, a limited pool of skills, poor access to quality inputs, fragmented research and development and limited infrastructure should be addressed in order to ensure success as member countries.