The Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has reiterated government resolution to modernize and equip the Ghana Navy to deal with current and emerging issues regarding maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea by acquiring Offshore Patrol Vessels, Fast Patrol Boats and Crafts.
He said in addition, government was making funds available for the timely completion of the Forward Operating Base at Ezelinbo, and that there were plans to establish similar Bases on the country’s Costal frontiers.
The Vice President made this known when he was addressing the opening ceremony as the Guest of Honour of the 2nd edition of the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC) 2021 hosted by the Ghana Navy and Ghana Airforce at the Kempinski Gold Coast City Hotel, Accra from Tuesday, 6 July to Thursday, 8 July 2021.
He continued that government was also to endorse a comprehensive National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS) that would enhance interagency cooperation and thereby boost the collaboration among Land, Sea, Air force and key shareholders in the country. He stated that the sea is the super highway for global trade and that Africa’s quest for a continental Free Trade Area cannot be successful without a secured maritime domain.
On the theme; “Maritime Security and Trade, the Nexus between a Secured Maritime Domain and a Developed Blue Economy”, the two-day conference was aimed to strengthen Regional cooperation and interoperability and to promote interagency approaches to curb maritime security.
The Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu said this year’s theme for IMDEC 21 was focused on secured maritime domain and a developed Blue Economy. He added that the Blue Economy had suffered from significant distraction on international trade, unregulated fishing and other challenges due to the insecurity in the maritime domain.
He said this conference was crucial even in the mist of the COVID-19 pandemic because the Ghana Navy could not afford to slow down its operations because of the pandemic since the tempo of criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea has increased during the period.
The CNS said he was hopeful the major outcomes expected from the conference and exhibition in line with the theme would provide workable and affordable solutions that could be adopted regionally to deal with maritime security issues.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Frank Hanson in his remarks outlined some of the strategies for addressing the challenges to air maritime operations in the Gulf of Guinea.
These included targeted foreign direct investment in air power capabilities which some foreign partners had used to eliminate some maritime challenges, redefining air power as an interoperability budget for maritime operations and strengthening air bases that were far from the coastland to form network of bases to launch air power operations in the Sub Region.
In his closing remarks, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Vice Admiral Seth Amoama urged that the recent maritime crimes need to be tackled with sophisticated technologies and strategic ideas discussed by the speakers, panelists and exhibitors of IMDEC 21. He said these ideas discussed and equipment exhibited would provide the roadmap solutions to protect and ensure secured maritime domain for the Blue economy.
He then acknowledged the Ghana Navy and Air force for hosting IMDEC 21 and also expressed his gratitude to Great Minds Event Management, the sole partner of the Conference and Exhibition.
As part of the activities lined up for IMDEC 21, there was a site visit by the attendees and delegates to the Western Naval Command at Sekondi and Air force Base, Takoradi.
The Conference brought together about 15 Chiefs of Navies and Air forces from across Africa, international maritime experts as speakers, panelists and exhibitors from global defence industries.