President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged countries in the Gulf of Guinea to prioritize matters connected to marine security and safety.
Speaking at the opening session of the third International Marine Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC) in Accra, President Akufo-Addo said protecting the marine domain required a joint effort.
He said to stop terrorist organizations from operating within the territorial waters, they should cooperate and take advantage of the technology landscape, knowledge and naval competence.
President Akufo-Addo said the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches from Senegal to Angola and has a coastline of around 6,000 kilometres, is a crucial shipping route for the transportation of cargo, oil and gas to and from central and southern Africa.
Speaking on the theme, “Consolidating the giants made in the Gulf of Guinea: The role of stakeholders and technology in sustaining a safe and secure maritime domain,” the President, opined that 84 ship attacks were reported in the region in 2020 and 135 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom.
He stated, “According to the Bureau, kidnapping for ransom increased by roughly 50% along the coast between 2018 and 2019, and by about 10% between 2019 and 2020. Around 1,500 cargo ships, tankers, and fishing boats travel through the territorial seas per day on average.”
The Gulf of Ghana, according to President Akufo-Addo, is essential to maintaining global trade.
To effectively combat marine threats around the Gulf of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo said discussions like the IMDEC should be taken seriously.
“I am especially pleased to see our Generals, Admirals, Marshals and representatives of our international partners and stakeholders in the maritime and defence sectors participate in this conference,” the president stated.
He said, “Your presence is ample proof of the importance of collaboration and the cooperation required to deal with the pertinent issues of the maritime sector, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.”
On his part, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, stated the maritime commons, the Gulf of Guinea, has been touted as the most dangerous waters globally. The situation improved significantly, with no major attacks in 2021 and 2022.
“However, we have seen a resurgence of piracy attacks this year most of which occur far offshore over 100 nautical miles and shifting further East and West from the geographical Gulf of Guinea, which had hitherto been the hotspot of these attacks,” he said.
He said Ghana has not recorded any significant attack or kidnapping in the last two years but continues to experience petty thefts on ships at anchorages, particularly the Takoradi anchorage, adding the Ghana Navy is strategizing to deal with this menace.
Dzifa Hukporti, ISD