Maritime security confab underway in Accra
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, has said that good governance, poverty alleviation and social inclusion create a thriving and secure maritime environment.
He described maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea as multi-faceted and complex.
Rear Admiral Yakubu was addressing the opening session of a maritime security conference in Accra yesterday.
The two-day conference is on the theme: “Maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea: Fostering a comprehensive approach to a complex problem.”
It is being jointly organised by the Royal Danish Defence College; the Stellenbosch University's Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa, and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).
The conference, which is a build-up to the maiden edition held in 2022, has seasoned maritime security practitioners from around the world as participants.
Among issues being discussed are how to address maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) maritime domain.
Cost of freight
Rear Admiral Yakubu said that the high cost of freight in the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain resulting from increased insurance premiums for ships operating in the region was negatively impacting the cost of living in many countries.
He also mentioned the lack of trust, inadequate information sharing, interoperability, boundary delimitation and language barrier as some of the drawbacks to maritime security in the region.
Others include poverty, weak governance and environmental degradation, drug and human trafficking, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, maritime terrorism and pollution.
“The sea’s seamless nature and the shipping industry’s multinational character require countries to cooperate to address maritime security issues,” Admiral Yakubu said.
An Associate Professor of the Royal Danish Defence College, Thomas Mandrup, expressed worry over the rising spate of military takeovers in some landlocked countries within the ECOWAS sub-region, which he said posed serious security threats to coastal states’ ability to effectively address maritime security challenges.
Prof. Mandrup also said that coup d’etats allowed local crimes and insurgencies to fester, causing enormous spillovers on neighbouring states.
The Vice Dean of the Faculty of Military Science at Stellenbosch University, Dr Michelle Nel, urged players in the maritime sector to build capacity to enable them to monitor and secure their waters.
“It is not just about preventing threats, but also about fostering a culture of maritime responsibility to the benefit of all stakeholders,” he added.
The Commandant of the KAIPTC, Major General Richard Addo Gyane, said whereas efforts of both regional and international partners had drastically reduced, piracy activities within the GoG were increasing and, therefore, required a comprehensive and coordinated approach to tackle the menace.