International Relations and Cooperation's Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has described the launch of the Indian Research Expedition Programme as a giant step to open up job opportunities for the youth of South Africa and other member states.  The launch took place aboard the SA Agulhas at the Durban harbour. This was alongside the Indian Ocean Rim Association Council meeting currently underway in the city.

The aim of the meeting is to encourage trade among 21-member states in a range of sectors such as research and tourism. Nkoana-Mashabane says the programme will allow researchers to determine how much wealth is in the sea as it has not been exploited for years. About 21 members of Indian Ocean Rim Association, which include South Africa, Kenya, and China share ideas and expertise on how to generate economy out of sea. The research wing of the association called Indian Ocean Research Expedition has been officially launched to conduct research about opportunities that can be exploited at sea by these respective members of IORA.

The launch took place aboard the SA Agulhas at the Durban harbour. South Africa has taken the IORA Chairship from Indonesia. International Relations minister says it will allow researchers to determine how much wealth is in the sea as it has not been exploited for years. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says, "We are launching and will start now to enhance the dreams of the realisation of harnessing our ocean economy. This International Indian Expedition is going to be researching on the wealth that is at sea. The actual ownership of the territory for South Africa is much bigger at sea or at the ocean than it is on land."

"We are here to make sure that operation Phakisa succeeds"

Nkoane-Mashabane calls on the youth to use opportunities availed by the launch. "Because of our geographic location, young South Africans will be out there building ships, being in the marine transport, exploring the wealth that is at sea which we don't know about and claiming our territorial through our continental shelf.

"We are here to make sure that operation Phakisa succeeds, but also making sure that we live up to the commitments we have made on our sustainable development goal." Indian Ocean Rim Association General Secretary K.V. Bhagirath says fisheries, mining and renewable energy are aspects the organisation will focus on and also deal with human trafficking.

"It is going to be a very special period, especially in fisheries, mining and port development and these are areas that we are looking at. And every opportunity, there is always a challenge and we have to nurture that." "Indian Ocean has faced threat in maritime safety and there two aspects that we are looking at. One is the anti-by the sea and new dimensions of threats such as humanitarian and smuggling of humans."

The captain of S.A. Agulhas Mfanafuthi Bhengu says the programme will open many opportunities for the South Africans.

 

"We are looking at the training of students who are still studying; secondly, the engineers, the navigators will get more ship time because for you to qualify you need to have spent some time on the ship." 

 

Ministerial council from  21 countries will meet on Wednesday to chart the way on how to fast track development programmes.