President Akufo-Addo has called on countries located along the Gulf of Guinea to invest in cutting-edge maritime governance technology that can support efforts aimed at securing their territorial waters from the activities of patriates and other criminals who operate on the high seas.
The Gulf of Guinea has countries such as Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola located within its boundaries.
Speaking at the 2023 International Maritime Defence Conference and Exhibition as well as the launch of the National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS) of the Republic of Ghana at the Burma Hall, Burma Camp today Tuesday 29 August 2023, President Akufo-Addo said nations along the Gulf of Guinea must go a step ahead of the sophisticated technologies being used by perpetrators of maritime crime.
The theme for the conference, “Consolidating the Gains made in the Gulf of Guinea: The Role of Stakeholders and Technology in Sustaining a Safe and Secure Maritime Domain” according to President Akufo-Addo, was most appropriate considering the challenges that the Gulf of Guinea maritime space is facing.
“I commend the excellent collaborative efforts between the Naves in the region (Gulf of Guinea region), our international partners and stakeholders for the considerable reduction in maritime crimes especially, piracy.
“Technology has become a vital tool in our quest to sustain a safe and secure maritime domain. The critical challenge is that perpetrators of maritime crimes use sophisticated forms of technology which require a more innovative counter advance technology that give enforcers a comparative advantage” President Akufo-Addo said.
“Maritime security stakeholders must take charge of this domain in order to deny access to terrorist groups drifting southwards from the Sahel region towards the Gulf of Guinea.
“I must stress the need for multifaceted technological approach to deny unauthorized use of the underwater, surface and above water resources by criminals and economic saboteurs” Akufo-Addo added.
The President in his remarks further noted that “no single country, ministry of agencies can develop the blue economy alone. The maritime commons, he said, “are connected in diverse ways” hence, there is “the need for a national, regional and international collaboration towards achieving [the Gulf of Guinea’s] collaborative aspirations”.
“It is important to note that all these strategies are hunched on a functional and effective maritime governance system that is able to detect illegal activity at sea and has the right structures on shore to ensure law enforcement” President Akufo-Addo remarked.
Focus on technology
Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, Chief of Naval Staff in his remarks observed that there has been a steady decline in piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea in recent times due to the collaborative efforts of the regional and international partners as well as the increased use of technology in maritime operations.
“We have chosen to focus on the role of stakeholders and technology in sustaining a safe and secure maritime domain for this year’s conference. Our region’s blue economy has suffered significantly from disruptions in international trade, fishing and other challenges due to the insecurity in our maritime domain” Rear Admiral Yakubu stated.
“It is therefore imperative that we review our efforts so far and learn lessons from our past and current experiences in order to develop innovative strategies to curb emerging maritime threats” Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu added.
Secure maritime domain
On Ghana’s newly launched National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS), President Akufo-Addo called on all stakeholders to participate fully in the realization of the vision and objectives of the National Integrated Maritime Strategy to ensure that the interests of present and future generations are protected.
”I am happy to note that Ghana has taken steps to strengthen maritime governance and also harmonize activities in the maritime sector with the adoption of Ghana’s National Integrated Maritime Strategy” President Akufo-Addo said.
“It is expected the successful operationalization of the strategy and its detailed implementation plan will bolster cooperation among all relevant stakeholders, notably, the various ministries, departments, and agencies, actors within Ghana’s security architecture, civil society organizations and international partners to achieve the vision of a safe and secure maritime domain, and thriving blue economy sectors that would enhance the livelihoods of Ghanaians and boost our GDP growth” he added.
This National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS) has been developed by a multi- agency Ghanaian team at a crucial moment in our history when there is a burgeoning awareness of the contribution of our oceans to sustainable development (as indicated by Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals); a moment in our history when our oceans are faced with a convoluted set of maritime threats as well as increasingly complex conservation and management concerns.
This Strategy is intended to chart viable courses of action towards addressing these issues to ensure that Ghana’s maritime domain is globally considered safe and secure, with strong blue economy sectors that not only generate substantial national income, but also ultimately improve the living standards of our people.
The NIMS is guided by seven (7) core principles: national ownership, social inclusion and impact, synergy. accountability, partnerships and cooperation, technology, and innovation and sustainability.
Each of these principles is ingrained in the provisions mapped out in this document, making the NIMS a living strategy – one that takes into account current and future maritime threats and opportunities to advance Ghana through a sustainable and prosperous ocean economy, for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
The NIMS has been developed with six (6) strategic objectives in mind for the country: First, strengthen the framework for maritime governance. Second, ensure the safety and security of Ghana’s maritime domain and third, develop a thriving blue economy.
Fourth is to “protect our marine and coastal environment, fifth, promote capacity-building, research, awareness and knowledge-sharing in the maritime domain, and lastly, develop dynamic and diversified regional and international cooperation.
These strategic objectives are backed by recommended priority actions – specific goals that must be met to ensure that we attain the broad vision of the NIMS. This Strategy, supported by its implementation plans, will be executed by a National Maritime Council, chaired by the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana.