Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has said the government would soon implement a comprehensive National Integrated Maritime Strategy that will enhance interagency cooperation and boost collaboration among the country’s land, sea, and air forces.
The Strategy, the Vice President said, forms part of ongoing efforts by the government to institute a framework, in collaboration with other stakeholders across the world, to address the surge in attacks by Pirates and incidences of kidnapping for ransom in the Gulf of Guinea, a critical maritime highway for international commerce.
Addressing participants at the ongoing International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC ‘21) in Accra on Wednesday, 07 July 2021, Vice President Bawumia said the government was determined to modernise and re-equip the Ghana Navy and other sectors of the Ghana Armed, as well as key stakeholders to scale up their level of readiness to face the growing challenge.
He said firstly; the government is acquiring Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Fast Patrol Boats and Crafts, making funds available for the timely completion of the Forward Operating Base at Ezinlibo, and establishing similar bases on the country’s coastal frontiers.
Dr Bawumia said other stakeholders would not be left out of the task as the Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, the Fisheries Sector, the various institutions in the oil and gas sector and the entire maritime industry are being supported and encouraged for their transformation.
Statistics on pirates’ attacks in the Gulf of Guinea reveal that actual and attempted pirates’ attacks increased by 34 percent in 2020 and a rise in the number of cases of kidnappings for ransom and hostage-taking.
In 2020, 130 out of 135 persons kidnapped globally were reportedly abducted in the Gulf of Guinea alone, as criminals are not bothered by international boundaries.
“It is important to remind ourselves that the threats to maritime security and safety transcend borders. They affect international trade,” he said.
Vice President Bawumia said the sea is the superhighway for global trade and Africa’s quest for a Continental Free Trade Area cannot be successful without a secured maritime domain.
“A more serious concern,” Dr Bawumia said, was the fact that the criminals at sea were evading counter-piracy measures and have even become emboldened by scaling up the insecurity and threat profile in the Gulf of Guinea.
Reports indicate Pirate Action Groups have increased their operational range. At the same time, the spread of attacks has also changed from the primary enclave in the Niger Delta extending both westwards and south-eastwards to the whole of the Gulf of Guinea region.
That, Dr Bawumia said, had quickened the government’s efforts to ensure effective cooperation and collaboration among regional Navies through coordinated maritime law enforcement activities to suppress insecurities in the maritime sector and build trust among partners through information-sharing and application of best management practices.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD