Gulf of Guinea countries must cooperate to fight piracy – Maritime Safety Expert

Accra, Commodore Kakra Addison (rtd), a Maritime Safety and Security Expert, has called for effective cooperation between the Gulf of Guinea countries to pull together resources and expertise to fight piracy that has bedeviled the region.

Commodore Addison, who is also a former Deputy Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), in Teshie, Accra noted that there was a need to protect the region from such maritime attacks to safeguard the resources and benefits citizens and countries derived from the Gulf of Guinea.

He said it was only by addressing generalized maritime disorder that the problems of piracy and maritime terrorism might be controlled in the long term.

He said this when presenting a paper on the topic ‘Maritime Terrorism, Piracy, and Armed Robbery at Sea’ at the 15th Maritime Security and Transnational Organized Crime (MSTOC) course organized for 34 professionals from 13 Gulf of Guinea countries by the KAIPTC with support from the German Government.

He stated that the region had 5,000 nautical miles (nm), which offered seemingly idyllic conditions for shipping and hosts numerous natural harbours, adding that it was also rich in hydrocarbons, fish, gas, cocoa, gold, timber, and other resources and has a market size of over 300 million consumers.

‘These attributes provide immense potential for maritime commerce, resource extraction, shipping, and development. Indeed, container traffic in West African ports has grown 14 percent annually since 1995, the fastest of any region in sub-Saharan Africa,’ he added.

Commodore Addison (Rtd), who was also a former Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command, indicated that the Gulf of Guinea region had also become a hub for global energy supplies, with significant qualities of all petroleum products consumed in Europe, North America, and Asia transiting this waterway.

He said this economic boom was, however, threatened as the number of recent attacks and damage caused had reached worrisome proportions, indicating that data from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) revealed that it remained the world’s piracy hotspot in 2021 as it accounted for nearly half (43 percent) of all reported piracy incidents in the first three months of 2021.

He said the IMB reported that the Gulf of Guinea recorded the highest-ever number of crew kidnapped in 2020, with 130 crew members taken in 22 separate incidents.

He added that according to the IMB, pirates operating within the Gulf of Guinea were well-equipped to attack further away from shorelines and were unafraid to take violent action against innocent crews, hence the need for collaboration and cooperation to curb their activities.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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