Some West African Regional Maritime Officers have converged at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) for a 5-day workshop on Maritime Operations Planning from Monday 11 to Friday 15 November 2019.
The workshop, a third of its kind, was aimed at equipping participants with basic knowledge and skills to act as Maritime Planning Staff Officers at the tactical level in a multinational maritime context. Participants were drawn from Ghana, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Gabon, Togo, Cape Verde, Guinea, and the Congo.
In a speech read on behalf of the Commandant, KAIPTC; Maj Gen Francis Ofori by the Director Training, KAIPTC, Col Albert Dawohoso stated the Gulf of Guinea region was important to the global economy and was therefore imperative for both the region and the international community to ensure stability in the region. “If the region remains stable, natural resource-endowed countries will grow as reliable suppliers,” he said.
Maj Gen Ofori indicated that Maritime crimes had assumed alarming proportions and were posing a huge threat to global commerce. He revealed that crimes, especially piracy in the Gulf of Guinea gained notoriety not too long ago, necessitating the adoption of two United Nations Security Council Resolutions, (UNSCRs) 2018 and 2039.
According to the Commandant, whilst UNSCR 2018, adopted in 2011, encouraged states in the region to cooperate to defeat the myriads of maritime crimes at sea, the follow-up UNSCR 2039 (adopted in 2012) encouraged states and regional organisations in the region to implement national maritime strategies and legal frameworks to combat maritime security collectively.
He subsequently revealed that 25 Heads of States as well as Heads of relevant Regional Organisations of West and Central Africa met in Yaoundé, Cameroon in June 2013 to declare their support to collective security in the Gulf of Guinea. As a result, the Yaoundé Declaration and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) were signed to support the initiative, leading to the adoption of a Code of Conduct to guide and encourage member states to conform to one standard of conduct in combating maritime crimes.
He referred to the Articles 9 -14 of the Code of Conduct and stated these encouraged capacity building, information sharing, cooperation, coordination and collaboration among member stakeholders within each country as well as among partners across the region and beyond. To this effect, the Maritime Operations Planning Workshop was thus designed to implement these provisions in the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
The Commandant expressed his sincere gratitude to the US and Danish governments for their continuous support to the workshop for a safe and secure maritime domain in the Gulf of Guinea.
On his part, the Defence Attaché of Denmark, Naval Captain Soren Nielson, revealed that at any given time, an estimated 30 vessels controlled by Danish companies are present in the Gulf of Guinea. He said that Denmark had a strong interest in an open, free and secured maritime domain, adding that the lack of maritime security in some regions was a serious threat to both Danish seafarers and ship-owners.
He said the Denmark and the US will continue to contribute to the international efforts in combating piracy and other types of maritime crime in close collaboration with regional partners
The workshop was coordinated by the Inter-Regional Coordination Centre (ICC) for Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea in partnership with the United States Naval Forces (US NAVAF) and the Royal Danish Navy.