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SPEECH BY THE HON NAJIB BALALA, EGH, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF MINING ON BEHALF OF ENG. M.S.

M KAMAU, CBS CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE, DURING THE OPENING OF THE CONFERENCE ON THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF MARITIME AFRICA IN THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION ON 12TH MARCH 2014 AT HOTEL INTERCONTINENTAL, NAIROBI Chairman, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Your Excellency Geoffrey Tooth, High Commissioner of Australia to Kenya Secretary General, Your Excellency K. V. Bhagirath, Indian Ocean Rim Association Excellences Ambassadors present Distinguished delegates Government Officials present Invited Guests Ladies and Gentlemen
Distinguish Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome all participants to the conference on the political economy of maritime Africa in the Indian Ocean region. With participants drawn from private associations, academic and public sectors, the gathering is an important event in furthering the Indian Ocean Rim Associations objectives.
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Let me say formally that you are all welcome to Kenya and the city of Nairobi. Kenya is deeply committed to the ongoing process of developing and strengthening economic cooperation in the region in recognition of the great opportunities such cooperation accords the realization of the regions unexplored maritime potential. This conference, organized with the objective of facilitating exchange of views from the assembly of able presenters and discerning participants will surely stimulate enhanced participation by African IORA Member States in strengthening regional cooperation. Shipping carries more than 90% of world trade and as you all aware, the Indian Ocean is the world's third largest Ocean. It carries half of the world's container ships, one third of the bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of the world's oil shipments. The region is a lifeline of international trade and economy, woven together by key trade routes as well as command and control of the major international sea-lanes. As host to between a quarter and a third of the world's population (about 2 Billion) the Indian Ocean Rim region comprises of indeed, a massive market rich in strategic and precious minerals and metals and other natural resources, valuable marine resources ranging from food fisheries to raw material and energy for industries. It has abundant agricultural wealth in terms of the variety and mass of arable land and has significant human resources and technological capabilities. It is indeed gratifying to see many countries of the Indian Ocean Rim increasingly becoming globally competitive. If the ongoing development of new capacities among member states can be jointly harnessed through regional co-operation, then I wish to categorically assure you that together we can scale great heights. Distinguish Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is in the above context that I wish to share with you my views on just a few key areas.
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Firstly, allow me to emphasize the need for increased intra-trade collaboration among ourselves. What we have witnessed in other regional groupings should teach us the importance of moving as quickly as possible towards tangible commitments in pursuit of economic and trade collaboration. The collaboration should take place within an increasingly open and competitive system of trade and investment as it has been proved that it is mainly within such systems that real benefits can be realized. We have witnessed this in the stunning economic success of East Asia, particularly South East Asia which remains a compelling evidence of the success of open systems. We must strive to improve the enabling economic environment in which the business community operates. It has indeed become our fundamental obligation to listen to business and deliver real outcomes which will better the lot of all our peoples in the region in a win/win outcome. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen the second issue I would like to discuss is the issue of piracy You are all aware of the pain the region went through when at the peak of piracy, over 400 hostages were held in Somalia in some 47 ships in addition to unknown numbers of various dhows and smaller vessels. It left no doubt of the extent to which the scourge of piracy on the Gulf of Aden, seas of the north-western Indian Ocean and waters off the horn of Africa could have serious and deleterious effect upon the safe passage of cargo and passenger carrying vessels. Indeed it not only affected localized seaborne traffic, but became a bottleneck to world trade with severe and long lasting damage to the global economy. Our region's fishing industry, the second pillar of our economy was almost brought to a standstill with far reaching implications for our way of life, affecting as it did from artisanal to industrial fisheries and the potential development of this sector.

Once upon a time a fisherman would not let even his spouse know the exact location of his treasured fishing grounds which would have been information passed on for generations. Today it is mandatory to have a vessel monitoring system on board the vessel and fishermen are now going out fishing in pre-established locations considered safe and kept under surveillance. While Kenya has contributed to addressing the problem from inside Somalia, many seafarers have and continue to be concerned for their safety. The region still needs more focused, reassuring and effective response to piracy. We must come together as a region to bear the burden of Anti-piracy surveillance and deterrence costs in addition to the costs combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Distinguish Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, We must be fully proactive in combating the blight of piracy by ensuring that as much involvement as possible is undertaken on the ground, in addition to giving maximum support to the newly established governance structures in Somalia. The issue of piracy must never disappear on the region's agenda of urgent issues to be dealt with and even in our regional meetings such as this one, the matter has to be given the due attention it deserves. That is why it is my hope that we will be further enlightened on new developments in overcoming piracy challenges in the form of new solutions, concrete actions and our efforts in drawing international attention and support to the plight of piracy as faced in our region. Ladies and Gentlemen on a most positive note let me now move on to offshore drilling As we are all aware, natural resources, politics and economics are intertwined. The significance of oil through the 20th& 21stcenturies in economic development the world over cannot be under estimated.
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The recent explorations and discoveries of oil and gas in the Eastern Africa region, has great potential for partnerships in this sector that must be taken up. I am therefore, urging member states of the Indian Ocean Rim to take advantage of the opportunities available and cooperate in establishing ways of exploring such resources. As a country we stand to benefit in the construction sector as we seek for opportunities for the community, who may set up linkages, identify partners and eventually forge strategic alliances for cooperation in construction projects to be implemented in IORA member states. We therefore support the IORA construction business conclave initiated by Malaysia in 2008. Distinguish Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, In conclusion, I wish to state that in order to promote the sustained growth and balanced development of the region and of the member states and to create common grounds for regional economic cooperation, we must come together strongly and intensity our efforts towards this cooperation. The abiding lesson of modern economic history is that the globalization of the world economy means that countries which pursue inward looking self-sufficiency will inevitably fail to capture the enormous potential that open interaction with other economies brings about. At the same time we must all remember that, as beneficial as regional cooperation may be, no regional grouping can compensate for a failure to get domestic economic fundamentals right. This is an undertaking that we the member states of IORA must take very seriously. Finally, I take this opportunity to thank you for participating in the deliberations and wish you a wonderful stay in our beautiful Country
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Kenya and I do hope you will take a few days to enjoy our hospitality and sample our tourist sites. Thank you and God bless you.