Africa Must Prepare for Indian Ocean’s Rising Importance

Published on 7th May 2013

Fifty countries and organisations are gathered in London for an international conference aimed at bolstering political stability in the conflict-battered Horn of Africa country. The US Naval reports indicate that piracy attacks in the Horn of Africa have drastically reduced from 129 in 2011 to only 19 in 2012. The reports come in the wake of the increasing global importance of the Indian Ocean. The world's third largest Ocean carries half of the world's container ships, one third of the bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of the world's oil shipments. Its rim constitutes between a quarter and a third of the world's population (close to two billion), making it a massive market. Its littoral states contain more than two-thirds of the world’s known oil reserves, 35 per cent of the world’s gas reserves, 60 per cent of uranium, 40 per cent of gold, 80 per cent of all diamond deposits and a large variety of other mineral substances.

The late US Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and historian, Alfred Thayer Mahan, once observed that the destiny of the world would be decided on the waters of the Indian Ocean. This was also echoed during the just concluded 11th IREN Eastern Africa Media Forum whose theme focused on the Indian Ocean Rim as a gateway to Eastern Africa's Prosperity.  The forum highlighted the urgent need for Eastern Africa to take proactive steps to utilize opportunities offered by the Indian Ocean and guard against threats occasioned by global interests. It is imperative that African states cash in on their proximity to the Indian Ocean, strategize on how to handle the threats and opportunities accruing from the renewed interest in it. The Indian Ocean is set to feed the global headline news of the future.

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