Maritime security conference opens in Accra
A Maritime Security and Transnational Crimes programme to facilitate the establishment of professional relationships among regional and national actors has opened in Accra.
The ultimate purpose is for information sharing and the promotion of stronger collaboration and cooperation and expeditious reactions to counter emerging threats.
The two-week course by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), with sponsorship from the German government, brings together 35 participants from 10 countries within the West and Central African sub-regions.
It also seeks to enhance the capacity of participants to form an alliance that will ensure the ability of freedom of navigation, flow of commerce, protection of ocean resources and securing the maritime domain.
Opening the course, the Deputy German Ambassador to Ghana, Sivine Jansen, said the current sophistication with which transnational crimes, such as human smuggling, arms and drugs trafficking and piracy were committed within the maritime domains of the participating countries required the building of competencies.
The course, she said, was also to create the basis for shared understanding and enhanced working relations among maritime stakeholders from the various zones in the Gulf of Guinea maritime region.
In the same vein, the course was to help with the transformation of the security sector to strengthen accountability, effectiveness and respect for human rights and the rule of law, she added.
Ms Jansen urged the participants to share experiences, especially during the scenario-based exercises to be undertaken during week two of the programme.
While expressing the hope that the two programmes would strengthen the operational and tactical competencies of law enforcement agencies and maritime sector stakeholders through training, while promoting inter-agency and inter-state cooperation, she was optimistic that participants would, by the programme, enhance their leadership and professionalism abilities towards the protection of human rights, the rule of law, maritime resource protection, among others.
The German Federal government, which she said had supported the KAIPTC in developing various programmes since 2003, would continue to provide technical and financial support for the institution to ensure that it continued to train and update knowledge in the areas of maritime security, human development and peace support operations.
The Chief Coordinator at the KAIPTC, Col Isaac Dagadu, in his remarks, indicated that while issues of piracy and maritime crimes had seen a significant decline in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) maritime domain, the threat of pirate activities in terms of mass kidnapping of crew, destruction to vessels, violence meted out to crew and robbing of crew belongings remained potent and fairly consistent.
"In view of these concerns, there is the need for increased synergies among stakeholders at all levels: intra-agency, inter-agency, bilateral, multilateral, regional, inter-regional and at the international level, with the need for cooperation, as enshrined in the Yaoundé Code of Conduct," he said.