Kenya participated at the 23rd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on October 11, 2023. The IORA COM is an annual meeting whereby Foreign Ministers from IORA Member States meet to discuss and decide over the body’s priorities.
The meeting was held to hand-over the IORA chairmanship and vice-chairmanship to Sri Lanka and India respectively. Sri Lanka succeeded the People’s Republic of Bangladesh whose two-year term had elapsed. Sri Lanka will serve as Chair for a period of two years (2023-2025).
Mr. Joseph Masila, the Director of Economic Affairs and Economic Diplomacy represented Kenya on behalf of H.E. Dr. Musalia Mudavadi, Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.
During his speech read on his behalf, H.E. Mudavadi noted that the Indian Ocean remains a dynamic and diverse region, characterized by a rich tapestry of cultures, economies and ecosystems. To realize the full sustainability of the region’s potential, he suggested strengthening the structural underpinnings that support cooperation in the area.
“Our Indian Ocean identity is not just a geographical construct; it embodies the shared history, values, and aspirations of our people,” he stated, “reinforcing our Indian Ocean identity means celebrating our diversity while embracing our commonalities. It involves nurturing a sense of belonging and solidarity among our nations, driven by a shared vision for sustainable development in our region.”
In addition, he endorsed the meeting’s theme “Strengthening Regional Architecture: Reinforcing Indian Ocean Identity”, terming it as a profound and timely call-to-action.
He called on the member states to align with the overarching goals of the Jakarta Concord and the IORA Vision 2030 and beyond. These goals emphasize on trade and investment as key drivers for fostering regional cooperation and development within the IORA. In embracing the objectives, Kenya called for support in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Women Economic Empowerment to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth across the region.
Moreover, the country emphasized on harnessing the power of partnerships to advance and develop the bloc’s architecture, strategic partnerships with international organizations, regional stakeholders and think tanks specializing in Indian Ocean dynamics. In return, this can help tailor solutions to region-specific challenges and enhance IORA’s capacity to address complex maritime challenges and promote sustainable practices in the Indian Ocean region.
IORA is an inter-governmental organization which was established on 7 March 1997. Its vision originated during a visit by late President Nelson Mandela of South Africa to India in 1995. It is home to nearly 2.7 billion people, 23-member States and 11 dialogue partners whose shores washed by the ocean.
The member states are divided into a number of sub-regions (Australasia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and Eastern & Southern Africa), each with their own regional groupings (such as ASEAN, SAARC, GCC and SADC)
Kenya is a member state.