By Maxwell Okamafo Addo
The Vice-President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has stated that it cost the sub region in excess of 20 billion dollars annually because of maritime crime, so has called on security chiefs in the sub region to help combat maritime crime, by fostering a close collaboration among them, in order to actively collaborate to protect and fight the maritime security threat in the sub region and Africa.
He said, it would enable them to effectively secure and ensure a peaceful maritime environment for the sub region and to make the coast and territorial waters unattractive to illegalities.
The Vice-President, made the statement when he gave his key note address at the maiden Coastal and Maritime Surveillance meeting in Ghana on Tuesday march 18, 2014 at the International Conference Centre, Accra, which brought all the key players in the maritime industry across the globe, under the Theme: Delivering Total Surveillance of African Maritime Domains.
According to him, the Gulf of Guinea, has become the home of maritime security concern for governments in the sub region with the growing awareness of more oil discovery’s, which is also attracting new investors into the region and the country for further prospecting, exploration and development, saying, “these investments must be protected.”
The Vice-president, also toured some exhibition stands mounted at the conference, including Naval Systems based in South Africa, who are leaders in Defence and security innovations and manufacturers of Naval boats with helipads for surveillance.
On his part the chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Geoffrey Mawuli Biekro, in welcoming members to the maiden Coastal and Maritime Surveillance Africa conference said, increasing insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea has caught the attention of the entire international community. Several interventions have been initiated to address this insecurity by various countries and regional bodies in the sub-region; however, the problem has persisted. So the UN has concluded that the security threats in the maritime domain of the Gulf of Guinea are a treat to international peace and security.
So it was important for the regions to continue to seek new ways and technologies to counter these threats. so the challenges confronting us are far beyond national boundaries. They are regional and trans-national in character, therefore only regional solutions with international support can effectively deal with them. The main challenge facing many littoral African states is the issue of maritime domain awareness. Many of our countries have claimed to maximum extent maritime zones provided for in the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea without having the necessary assets to monitor this vast expanse of water. This Conference is therefore timely.
Rear Admiral Biakro further stated that The importance of the Conference was underscored by the distinguished guests assembled and The decision by chiefs of various armed forces, heads of security services, senior officers from across the world, experts in the maritime and allied security and of course acclaimed global defence industries to travel to Accra to participate in the Conference is therefore timely.
Some of the personalities who graced the Occasion were security chief across the globe and the sub region, the minister of Defence Hon Mark Wayongo ,Mr. Michael Champion General manger North and west Africa IQPC and some diplomats.