Maritime security challenges for South Africa in the Indian ocean region (IOR): The southern and east coast of Africa

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Globally, maritime criminal activities including piracy, terrorism, drugs and arms smuggling, human trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing (IUU) and environmental threats have impacted the functioning of economies, societies, the environment and the security of maritime regions. These crimes are interconnected and transcend boundaries, generating huge profits. This paper focuses on the maritime security challenges facing the geographical region of the southern and east coast of Africa in the western quadrant of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which includes Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. The paper is twofold: firstly, it provides an overview of maritime crime in the area as well as South Africa's regional (SADC, EAC and COMESA) and international (IORA, IBSA and IBSAMAR) involvement within this maritime zone in the past decade and secondly, positions recent studies in the socio-economic dimension of piracy specifically, from the 2006 Somali piracy threats to present. In doing so, new forms of crime and security dilemmas are revealed, making maritime security within the sub-region, an ongoing challenge for all stakeholders concerned.

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... Here, trafficking, piracy and insurgencies operate in trans-regional networks, resulting in social instability, corruption in government and the degradation of critical energy infrastructures. 26 While piracy and drug trafficking are the two most critical threats in the South Atlantic region, neither originates entirely from the sea. 27 Both activities derive from the landbased contexts inshore of societal poverty and fragmentation, state inefficiency and the existence of black markets in governance gaps. ...
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Faced with significant changes to the economic and strategic scenario in the South Atlantic over the past decade, the region’s two major powers – Brazil and South Africa – have taken divergent approaches to policymaking for the maritime sphere. Whereas Brazil has, in essence, transferred its terrestrial security policy to the oceans and maintains a state-based deterrent approach, South Africa has invested heavily in governance-based approaches at the national, regional and international levels. While results have been limited on both sides due to the South Atlantic’s subordinate status, this contribution argues that South Africa’s approach has been significantly more successful in attaining both national (and regional) goals and providing policy solutions for the South Atlantic Ocean as a whole.
By drawing upon information gathered from interviews with pirates as well as statistics this article explores the major traits of contemporary piracy in Somalia and the how they developed. Criminal maritime groups in the country have traditionally been the product of the actions and decisions of individual actors, although the current wave of activity is more the result of the weakening of political institutions. In all cases syndicates are driven by profit considerations and have largely shunned connections with political entities—although this latter factor appears to have changed since the end of 2010.
Beneath the surface of the Somali piracy threat that preoccupies the international community throughout the vast Indian Ocean maritime zone, there is a broad landscape of economic, commercial and functional potential embracing the states bordering this zone. This analysis focuses on the eastern and southern African littoral of the western quadrant of the Indian Ocean. It is this sub-region of the Ocean, stemming from the Gulf of Aden abutting the Horn of Africa southward through the Mozambique Channel to the Cape sea route around South Africa, which occupies the main focus of attention. The state of affairs in this region tended to naturally shine the spotlight on South Africa as the only African state with the capacity and geographical positioning to take the initiative in combating the piracy threat. South Africa's initial response to external pressure to join an expanding flotilla against piracy was to demur into a retreat from engagement. However, it was not foreseen when the piracy crisis began to escalate that it would migrate southward as far as the Mozambique Channel, heightening threat perception in Tanzania, a member not only of Southern African Development Community (SADC), but also of the East African Community, and Mozambique. Thus, within the context of the African Union's fledgling maritime security strategy, SADC has produced its own plan. Although classified, its drafting coincides with South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania developing a tripartite cooperative approach to meeting the piracy threat. This recent SADC development needs to be seen in a broader geostrategic context of a renewal of South African interest and increased active participation in matters affecting the Indian Ocean. The issue of how the SADC relates to the increasingly salient maritime security agenda for Africa and the South has to be understood within a much broader context of the geostrategic spatial interdependencies impinging on Africa generally and, via the Indian Ocean, on the SADC region in particular. Therefore, South Africa's broader regional and extra-regional aims in eastern and southern Africa, alongside its unfolding global South and emerging power strategy involving IBSA, in particular, are addressed.
The article analyses the strong and growing ties between India and the African countries to which it is linked by the Indian Ocean, both in terms of trade and investment as well as security due to the strategic transport links in the region. The piece also analyses the work and usefulness of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co‐operation (IOR‐ARC).