Premier of KwaZulu Natal Mr Willies Mchunu welcoming guests to the Indian Ocean Regional Association Dinner held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre on 01 November 2018

01 NOVEMBER 2018


Premier of KwaZulu Natal Mr Willies Mchunu welcoming guests to the Indian Ocean Regional Association Dinner held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre on 01 November 2018

(Delivered by MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo)  


Programme Director;

MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Honourable Sihle Zikalala;

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;

Members of the Business Community;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;


I greet you all!

As I stand here I am honoured to be part of this wonderful occasion that for the 18th meeting to the Indian Ocean Regional Association of Council of Ministers being held in our city of EThekwini, in the province of KwaZulu Natal.

To be held under the theme “IORA – Uniting the Peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East through Enhanced Co-operation for Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development”, the meeting is a major advance in the creation of the architecture necessary for the sustainable growth and development of the world.

As we have been made to understand, the IORA 20th Committee of Senior Officials has been meeting in the city in order to prepare for the gathering of Ministers.

On behalf of the government and the people of KwaZulu Natal, I wish to welcome all delegates to this conference and to this auspicious occasion this evening.

In particular, we would like to welcome our visitors from the rest of the continent and the world. We value your presence here, and we look forward to your regular visits in future.

As KwaZulu Natal, we see ourselves first as a province of South Africa but at the same time, we are fully aware of our place in the continent linked as we are by land and sea to a number of countries. We are also aware that progress is to a large extent about people who in their own space, explore ways in which they can advance their immediate communities.

In practice, every endeavour must in the end contribute to the growth and development of one’s country and ultimately, to the continent and the rest of the world. In the end, we must judge progress by the extent to which we are better able to protect, preserve and advance key aspects of human, plant and animal life. Our dream of a better tomorrow must be linked to the betterment of all.    

In this regard, the Indian Ocean Rim Association is an opportunity to pay tribute to the continent of Africa, and by extension to the rest of the world. It is our share view that the Indian Ocean Region is of strategic importance and value to the world today.


The region’s natural resources remain vulnerable to wanton exploitation, abuse and eventual destruction. Our responsibility is to anticipate these multiple threats, but at the same time to multiply the benefits of trade and collaboration between and among our countries to the benefit of all. We consider the IORA as a key institution around which we can develop and advance the countries of the Indian Ocean.

We congratulate the founders of IORA which has been in existence since 1997 when it was launched in Mauritius as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IORA-ARC). Now known as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), today the body has 21 Member States and seven (7) Dialogue Partners. We congratulate you for advancing this vision of working together translate the vision of a  peaceful, advanced yet humanitarian world.

Since October 2017 South Africa has been chair of IORA having taken over from Indonesia. As a province we look forward to the chairing of the IORA by South Africa. We can say with certainty that our country will ably safeguard but also guide and lead this great institution till 2019.

Our country, which this year celebrates the centenary of our founding President Nelson Mandela, believes that the region must be characterised by peace, stability and development. Indeed, maritime safety and security is a critical component and precondition for the economic activity and growth that is necessary for sustainable socio-economic development.


Identifying the key priority areas of IORA

We all share in the dream of making the Indian Ocean a region of peace, stability and development through enhanced co-operation in the following six priority areas.

  • Maritime Safety and Security;
  • Trade and Investment Facilitation;
  • Fisheries Management;
  • Disaster Risk Management;
  • Academic and Science and Technology Co-operation;
  • Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchange;

We are also aware as the Department of International relations has indicated, that the IORA Action Plan provides the IORA Council of Ministers measures to implement the “Jakarta Concord”. In this way we will all be able to take the IORA forward in a more outcomes-orientated manner.

As we understand it, The Action Plan provides short, medium and long term goals to:

  • Promote Maritime Safety and Security in the Region;
  • Enhance trade and investment co-operation in the Region;
  • Promote sustainable and responsible fisheries management and development;
  • Strengthen academic, science and technology co-operation;
  • Foster tourism and cultural exchanges;
  • Promote gender equality and the economic empowerment of women and girls; and,
  • Harness and develop the Blue Economy in the Region;

We are encouraged by the commitment by IORA to a stronger focus on the enhancement of trade and investment between IORA members. The youth of our countries can also be empowered for the future while ensuring the effective utilisation of resources, such as water and fisheries.

We definitely need to promote research, development and innovation as we prepare our women, young people for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


Agenda 2063 and the Millennium Goals

As KwaZulu Natal our humble ambition is to use our position to help South Africa become a gateway to Africa and the world. This position of cooperation and collaboration supports the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. Our Provincial Growth and Development Strategy considers the use of the ocean’s resources in a sustainable manner for the development of our countries economy.

As a country, we are committed to working with the African Union in support of Agenda 2063 towards a prosperous Africa that is based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.  The African Union has declared 2015 to 2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans. Correctly so, IORA will collaborate with the African Union around the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) which is about how Africa is planning to achieve the objectives of enhancing maritime advantages of Africa and to use this to drive economic growth and prosperity. In addition, it follows that IORA will be working very closely with the Southern African Development Community which over the past decade has been exploiting ways of realising the economic benefits of the sea economy on a sustainable basis.


The KwaZulu Natal economic outlook

As KwaZulu Natal one of our major natural advantages is finding ourselves on the Indian Ocean rim.

For this reason, we potentially have access to the abundant resources of the ocean, including fisheries, offshore oil and gas, tourism and maritime industries.  Between them, our ports of Durban and Richards Bay handle over 60% of the country’s seaborne cargo. In spite of this, our maritime industry is characterised by significantly low levels of participation by the majority. We believe that unexplored as it is, the Ocean’s Economy in all its variations, presents one of the greatest opportunities for economic growth and development of our province and country.

By the same token, if planned properly this industry holds untold opportunities for the economic inclusion of the majority into the mainstream economy. Our ports are also natural sites for growth in sectors such as ship-building and repair, and oil and gas support.

We have no doubt that when oil rigs start visiting our coastline on a regular basis, this industry will grow exponentially. As the Premier of KwaZulu Natal stated during the State of the Province Address, we stand ready to take advantage of these and other new opportunities and a chance to redirect and recharge our economic growth. 

We are hopeful that the Blue Oceans Economy, coupled with a national policy shift towards the use of gas will also boost our national and provincial economy.

With these few words, I would like to say Welcome to KwaZulu Natal, Welcome to South Africa. May you have a very productive conference over the next few days.

We look forward to hosting you in this great city of Durban. We hope you can stay longer after the gathering to explore our province, if not, we hope you can return.

I Thank You!