National integrated maritime strategy launched
A National Integrated Maritime Strategy aimed at charting viable courses of action to address the challenges of the industry has been launched.
The strategy is also to ensure that Ghana's maritime domain is globally considered safe and secure with a strong blue economy that not only generates substantial national income but also improves the living standards of the people.
It was launched yesterday by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during the opening of the third International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference 2023 held at Burma Camp in Accra.
The six-point strategy includes strengthening the framework for maritime governance, the safety and security of Ghana's maritime domain, development of a thriving blue economy, protection of the marine and coastal environment, promotion of capacity-building, research, awareness and knowledge-sharing in the maritime domain and the development of a dynamic and diversified regional and international cooperation.
The conference and exhibition attracted global maritime industry players as well as Navy Chiefs from across the globe.
It was on the theme “Consolidating the gains made in Gulf of Guinea, the role of stakeholders and technology in sustaining safe and secure maritime domain.”
On display at the exhibition centre, which was also opened by President Akufo-Addo, were various sophisticated maritime and military hardware and equipment.
They included drones, arms and ammunitions.
President Akufo-Addo expressed worry about some entities who continued to paint a gloomy picture of events in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), although Ghana had not recorded any piracy at sea since 2022.
He said those agencies based their wrong reportage on the fact that some ship owners reported a few unverified petty theft at anchorages, situations which could not be described as piracy in the context of international maritime law definition.
“As much as maritime stakeholder organisations contribute towards international shipping they should be mindful of the implications of inaccurate reportage on the nation's ability to participate in global trade,” he added.
President Akufo- Addo said it was important to indicate that the illegal, unregulated and reported fishing, for instance, was linked to piracy, human trafficking, illicit drugs and weapons, and urged the maritime law enforcement agencies to consider using technology to break the vital link between the crimes.
“Technology has become a vital tool in our quest to sustain and secure the maritime domain.
The critical challenge is that the perpetrators of maritime crimes use sophisticated forms of technology which require more Innovative counter advanced technology and give enforcers a comparative advantage,” he added.
He urged the maritime security agencies and all stakeholders to take charge of this domain in order to deny access to terrorist groups drifting south west from the Sahel regions towards the Gulf of Guinea.
The President further indicated that the recent global economic downturn had called for developing countries to engineer alternative and innovative solutions to propel their economies so that they would benefit from the $24 trillion estimated ocean wealth to mitigate their social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities.
He described the exhibition and conference as important platforms for maritime stakeholders, particularly naval chiefs, to discuss and strategise for an effective way to create more conducive ways to leverage effectively the blue economy for sustainable economic development using appropriate technologies.
He said the Gulf of Guinea was vital for Africa, as oil and other exports and imports with an estimated regional gross domestic product of some $550 billion dollars annually, entered or exited the region.
Equally important, President Akufo-Addo said the sea’s contribution to communication and technology was crucial as it held strategic underwater internet communication fiber cables, which demanded that stakeholders found innovative solutions to strengthen the gains made in creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, in his opening remarks said the major outcomes expected from the conference were in line with the common understanding of the problem to develop a regional and international framework for dealing with piracy and other transnational maritime crime.
He expressed the hope that the industry players would present them with workable and affordable solutions that could be adopted regionally.