South Africa’s involvement in international affairs has increased greatly since the end of the apartheid era. While its policies tend to prioritise development within the African continent, it maintains a degree of involvement in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Through varying degrees of multilateral interaction, South Africa has developed outward-looking strategic objectives, designed to ‘protect and promote’ its domestic interests. Involvement in regional diplomacy; maintaining and improving security; and continuing economic expansion, are all elements of South Africa’s involvement in the Indian Ocean Region. These priorities balance its burgeoning relationships with China and India.
- South Africa is an emerging regional power. As such, it has taken on a greater leadership role within the region and has increased its participation in multilateral organisations.
- Economic disparities, high levels of unemployment and low levels of investment are among the key challenges confronting South Africa.
- Piracy is a continuing concern within the region and South Africa has increased its presence in regional waters accordingly. Co-operation with Mozambique, Tanzania and France, to secure important Sea Lines of Communication, has helped to prevent the southward expansion of Somali pirates.
- The growth of the South African economy may offer an opportunity for increased trade with Australia, particularly in terms of the resources industry and Australia’s technological capacities.