“Piracy Problem Presents A Serious Threat To Economies Of Countries Along Gulf Of Guinea” - Norup
The Counselor in charge of Maritime Affairs at the Danish Embassy, Thomas Raahauge Norup has hinted that piracy problems are a serious threat to the economies of countries along the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, it also put the lives of national and international seafarers at risk.
Reading a speech on behalf of the Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tom Nørring at the opening ceremony of the maritime security course in Takoradi in the Western Region, Mr. Norup said “This affects international trade, fishery and the offshore oil sector and collectively, all this affect each and every one of us present here today; higher prices for commodities, for fuelling our cars, buying close, toys and school books for our children, and a further implication is the derivate effects of pirates financing illicit activities on land, which in return disturbs and fluctuates the security situation in the region even more”
He added that despite the significant drops in the number of global piracy and maritime crime incidents, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) continues to experience an increasing number of maritime crimes in both international and territorial waters, making the GoG the most dangerous shipping routes in the world.
“We are observing an alarming trend with more violent assaults, more kidnappings for ransoms, and unfortunately also, an expanding geographical area of the attacks. The incidence happens both further at sea and further apart. The same trend as on the Horn of Africa more than a decade ago. Some of the incidences even happened as far as 250mm. from the coast”
Mr. Norup also explained that it is obligatory to act and safeguard the maritime domain.
He hinted that the Government of Denmark is committed to supporting this agenda of enhancing maritime security in West Africa through the Danish Maritime Security for the Gulf of Guinea.
He said “We work through partners such as the KAIPTC, UNODC, and with capacity training of the Navies in both Ghana and Nigeria. In the Danish Maritime Security Program, the Government of Denmark is supporting in areas of legislation, maritime strategies, research and (this) training and operational planning and response including capacity development of Special Forces within the navies of Ghana and Nigeria”
“As the problem of Maritime insecurity is regional, the Embassies of Denmark in Ghana and Nigeria work in close collaboration. With your support and cooperation and those of other key shareholders in the region, and the international community, we will continue the efforts in Ghana and Nigeria to support both national and international initiatives to further strengthen the framework. This will support the economic growth in the region whilst ensuring maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea” he stressed.
Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Major General Francis Ofori said “The Gulf of Guinea as many of us may be aware is endowed with a vast wealth of minerals, hydrocarbon deposits and varied species of marine and fisheries resources. Additionally, its waters serve as a critical route for international commerce and a shipping chokepoint. This region’s maritime affluence has made it attractive to both state and non-state actors who exploit the inadequate control of the region’s maritime domain to engage in illicit activity”
He explained that the Gulf of Guinea is currently the world’s leading hotspot for piracy, kidnapping, and armed robbery at sea.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s first-quarter report of 2020, Major General Ofori noted that there has been a 25% increase in piracy and armed robbery worldwide compared to 2019 figures of the same quarter.
The Commandant also mentioned that the Gulf of Guinea accounted for approximately 90% of global kidnappings with 49 crew kidnapped in 9 separate incidents.
“The pervasiveness of maritime security threats across the region therefore illustrates the need for a holistic approach to maritime security response in the region. Sustainable development of the blue economy, improvement of the well-being of coastal communities and commitment and collaboration across agencies and governments, therefore, becomes key in reducing maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea” he stated.
Despite significant drops in the number of maritime crime incidents around the globe, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) continues to experience an increasing number of maritime crimes in both international and territorial waters, making the GoG the most dangerous shipping routes in the world at the moment.
The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2020, up from 78 in Q2 2019.
The activities of the maritime criminals do not only pose a threat to international and regional shipping; it undermines the security and development of the Gulf of Guinea littoral states.
These crimes include piracy, armed robbery at sea, kidnapping for ransom, illegal fishing, and hijackings among others.
Although the Gulf of Guinea states has implemented a number of initiatives to enhance security, a series of factors contribute to weakening in the national and regional response to maritime security threats in the GoG.
These factors comprise a lack of inter- and intra-agency cooperation and collaboration, trust, and confidence-building among national maritime security actors as well as inadequate capacity among maritime security personnel.
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith