Chief of staff calls for action against piracy in West African waters
Chief of Staff Akosua Frema Osei-Opare instructed the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (OMAOC) to curb the apparent increase in pirate attacks in the waters of the sub -region.
The Ghanaian navy has revealed that 39 pirate attacks were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea between January and October 2021, with the most recent on October 11, 2021, when personnel successfully repelled an attempted pirate attack on a Tuna ship south of Aflao. .
The pirates’ new modus operandi, according to the Ghanaian navy, is to kidnap sailors and demand ransom, rather than simply hijacking tankers.
The Chief of Staff made the admonition in her opening speech during the opening ceremony of the 16th Special Session of the General Assembly of the West African Maritime Organization and Center.
âOver 90% of Africa’s international trade, imports and exports are carried out by sea. For us in Ghana and throughout our sub-region, seaports are used not only for internal trade, but also for trade with other landlocked countries and the international community. However, the African continent faces many maritime challenges, the most important being maritime insecurity. This is, I know, a major concern for most of the coastal nations in our region. The Gulf of Guinea became a dangerous area for merchants and fishing boats, the area quickly becoming fertile ground for pirates. Armed robberies and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices are also on the rise in our waters, a problem that can only be solved through cooperation among nations to catch these criminals.
Here again, the sub-region, by virtue of its geographical location, benefits from all the assets of the Gulf of Guinea, including its oil reserves. The area, which stretches from the coast of Senegal to Angola, although known for its illicit activities, remains one of the preferred routes for ships carrying goods across Africa. It is therefore our responsibility to protect this area, and I implore members to take urgent action to resolve any security concerns. I have no doubt that MOWCA would be at the forefront of an effort to improve the safety and security of our territorial waters.
It further instructed the sub-regional maritime body to strive to ensure adequate representation of the sub-region on the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), responsible for the regulation of maritime transport throughout the world. .
âSo far, only Kenya, Egypt and South Africa are represented on the IMO Council, none of these three countries representing the West and Central Africa sub-region . It is therefore relevant to initiate the process of ensuring the representation of the OMAOC at the IMO to guarantee the representation of this Region on the Council.
Transport Minister Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, who is also the President of OMAOC, in his opening speech at the opening ceremony of the 16th Special Session of the OMAOC General Assembly, instructed States members to come together so that the body makes significant progress in creating a secure environment for the exploration of the resources of its maritime domain.
âDue to our geographic location, we occupy a strategically important position in the Gulf of Guinea. We are heavily dependent on international maritime trade and the exploitation of our maritime resources. To fully benefit from our proximity to the maritime space, it is necessary that Member States collaborate more in the development of strategies for the sustainable use of our maritime resources. This calls for the urgent revitalization of regional bodies, in particular OMAOC. We must commit to the goals that brought us together and strictly adhere to our rules and procedures. “
The West and Central African Maritime Organization (OMAOC) was established in 1975 as the Ministerial Conference of West and Central African States on Maritime Transport (MINCONMAR). Its objective was to provide the sub-region with an institutional mechanism to control the cost of sea transport for member states of foreign trade. It also aimed to ensure the provision of cost-effective transport services within the Member States.
In 1999 the organization adopted its current name, MOWCA and since then the mission of the organization has been broadened to include safety of navigation, institutional support to maritime businesses, capacity building and sustainable financing of maritime and port sectors.