West Africa: Piracy, Robbery Reduce in Gulf of Guinea

Piracy and robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) have reduced over the last three years, says Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong.

From 68 cases in 2020, it came down to 18 in 2021, again went down to 15 cases last year and further down by five cases in the first quarter of this year.

Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong who disclosed these at the opening of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stakeholder meeting on maritime safety and security in Accra yesterday, attributed the feat to collaboration and coordination between GoG states and their national maritime authorities.

The three-day meeting aims to strengthen coordination and collaboration between stakeholders for full operationalisation of the ECOWAS maritime security architecture designed to combat illicit maritime activities in the region.

It is being attended by participants made up of mid- and high-level government officials, military personnel and civilians from Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin and Sierra Leone.

Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong said so far, ECOWAS member states had done well in implementing the pillars of the second maritime strategy which advocated a safe and secure maritime domain.

“Since the adoption of the ECOWAS Maritime Strategy (SMIC) in 2014, significant progress had been made in strengthening maritime surveillance, ensuring the safety and security of maritime areas and promoting better management of the maritime environment,” he said.

However, Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong said ECOWAS Member States should not rest on their oars, but they should work towards overcoming obstacles, hindering the full potential of the maritime security architecture.

These challenges, he said, included inadequate staffing, insufficient equipment, unpredictable financing, the non-binding nature of the young architecture on member states, and the limited interface of the system which did not display and track vessels of interests beyond the GoG region.

The ECOWAS Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, said his outfit was committed to maritime safety, and it would provide the needed support to achieve the goal.

He called for stronger collaboration, coordination and the pooling of resources for collective security, and safety to enhance their work and consolidate the gains made in the GoG.

In order to gain the support and participation of the citizenry of the respective countries, he called for enhanced civil society awareness on ways to tackle threats to maritime security.

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