To consolidate Africa’s maritime security and boost the continent’s blue economy, an international symposium organised by Security Watch Africa Initiatives, SWAI, Nigeria, alongside the Centre for Military Studies, CEMIS, from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, recently called for continental approach to handle matters relating to the region.
Chiemelie Ezeobi, reports that it was also an avenue to bestow on the Chief of Naval Staff, Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, the Award of Examplary Leadership in Maritime Security for his sterling achievements
Most of the programmes and associated outcomes of the African continent’s developmental agenda are linked to its ocean waters, thus the sea is an important line of communication and a unifier of mankind. Thus, it is often opined that it requires coordinated efforts on all fronts across the continent to achieve that development agenda.
To address these and more, the Security Watch Africa Initiatives, (SWAI) Nigeria, alongside the Centre for Military Studies, (CEMIS) from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, recently hosted a two-day international symposium at STIAS Conference Centre, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa,
whereby Chiefs of Naval Staff from African countries, experts, military officers, Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Ambassador Muhammad Haruna Manta, and other players in the maritime and security sector on the continent converged.
Themed “Blue Ocean Economy and Maritime Security in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Agenda 2063”, the symposium was based on the fact that the successful attainment of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 objectives is premised on the sustainable peace and security on the continent.
The symposium thus sought to explore various aspects of the Blue Ocean Economy and the potential roles that the navies of various countries can play, in conjunction with public and private sector entities, in ensuring security on the continent’s ocean waters.
To this end, the symposium wants States, African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC) to embark on holistic and collective maritime security efforts and propagate awareness of Blue Economy initiatives.
On why they saw the need to foster such partnerships, SWAI President/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Patrick Agbambu, said SWAI was established in 1997 with the primary objectives of monitoring, collecting, analysing, and broadcasting security issues on the African continent, for public awareness and policy making.
He further added that it the organisation seeks “to further encourage professionalism and intellectual engagements among African military, security forces, and all stakeholders, holds annual conferences, international symposium, and award ceremonies on African security in different parts of the world to celebrate and showcase the continent’s military and security forces’ accomplishments and enhance friendship, as well as military cooperation among Africans.
“It is in this light that SWAI and the Centre for Military Studies (CEMIS), Stellenbosch University, South Africa, held the two-day international symposium.
“The Symposium was cognisant that successful attainment of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 objectives is premised on sustainable peace and security on the continent.”
At the symposium, there were presentations on six thematic issues including Maritime Trade and global linkages, Maritime Law and “Blue water” Crime enforcement, Naval tasks in the Blue Economy, the Role of technology in untangling Departmental Mandates in a multi-domain maritime environment (disconnects in African legislative frameworks), Promoting Good Order at Sea: Opportunity for Naval Co-operation and Enhancing Co-operation and harmonisation of African solutions at Sea (Regulatory and legal frameworks).
Enhancing Maritime Security, the Nigerian Navy Experience
As the lead speaker, Nigeria’s Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, gave an account of the NN and efforts made to enhance its maritime security.
According to the CNS, the achievements recorded were through joint collaborative efforts with other services, security agencies, stakeholders and other international organisations and navies of other countries.
He also stated that the Nigerian Navy developed measures towards ensuring the safety of the country’s maritime domain for a sustainable Blue Economy.
Thereafter he noted that Blue Economy security in Africa would require a whole-of-continent approach towards proffering solutions to maritime insecurity.
He recommended that holistic collective maritime security efforts, deployment of technology, prosecution of transnational maritime offenders, awareness of sustainable Blue Economy initiative as well as enhanced research and development are key towards effective security of Blue Economy in Africa.
He concluded by stating that “Africa is endowed, blessed, and has all it takes to move to the next level of prosperity for global recognition. Therefore, all we need do is collectively synergise to actualise the development of Africa by Africans.”
The South African Contribution
During his Keynote address, the South African Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, who was represented by the South African Navy’s Director of Maritime Security, Vice Admiral David M. Mkhonto, highlighted the importance of the sea to humanity hence the need for the African continent to take advantage of that and enhance its blue economy and maritime security.
He further stated that the blue ocean economy and African maritime security are very important as both are closely related as globalisation hinges on the blue economy and maritime security.
He said that it was now time to devote more resources and time to these issues, more so as no single nation or institution can do it alone, and therefore, all stakeholders must come together and fashion out the way forward to enhance Africa’s blue economy and maritime security.
At the end of the symposium, the 8-point communique collated by the Chief Rapporteur, Brigadier General Sani K. Usman (Rtd.), stressed on the need for the regional navies to guarantee Africa’s Maritime Security and enhanced Blue Economy, Africa by using a whole-of-continent approach.
The communique stressed that States, African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC) should embrace holistic and collective maritime security efforts, deploy technology, prosecute transgressors of transnational laws, and propagate awareness of Blue Economy initiatives.
While recognising the importance of the oceans as an engine for global economic prosperity and stability, it further acknowledged the relationship between Africa’s Blue Economy and Maritime Security, hence the need for concerted efforts at improving African Blue Economy and Maritime Security through collaborative efforts in the region.
It also noted with concern that thr continent is bedevilled with many of challenges within the maritime environment, hence the need to address these challenges as opportunities for collective efforts to elevate the African Agenda 2063.
It also called on African countries and continental economic communities to collaborate deeper and look for African- centric solutions to address the Economy and Maritime Security challenges, by building on the strengths, capacities, experiences and potentials of African States.
Recognising that globalisation hinges on the Blue Economy and Maritime Security and no Nation can stand alone, it charged African countries to devote more time and resources to sustain Blue Economy and Maritime Security.
Also, to address maritime security challenges, it posited that African maritime entities must strengthen their collaboration and synergy on research and development, information sharing and operational capabilities.
Meanwhile, it said African countries should pursue integrated, all-encompassing maritime strategies that are aligned with continental and regional security architectures through collaborative efforts, joint inter-government, inter-agency and military exercises and policing of the maritime environment.
Award of Examplary Leadership
To wrap up what turned out to be two-days of brainstorming and dialogue, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Gambo was bestowed the Award of Examplary Leadership in Maritime Security by Prof M.S. Tshehla, Dean of Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University while Mr. Patrick Agbambu, CEO Security Watch Africa Initiatives read his citation.
For many industry watchers, the award was well deserved given the plethora of achievements and innovations the CNS has recorded, ranging from personnel welfare to intensive fleet recapitalisation, as well as 15 months of sustaining the war against maritime crimes and illegality for which Nigeria boasts of being delisted from list of piracy- prone countries as conveyed in the International Maritime Bureau report of March 3, 2022.
Prior to this, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Global Piracy Report of July 14, 2021, indicated that this is the lowest total of piracy and sea robbery against ships in 27 years. This report was corroborated by the Defence Web maritime security report of October 15, 2021 which noted further decline in reported cases of piracy and armed attacks against shipping.
Source: This Day Live
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