Maritime security, transnational organised crime course opens in Accra
14-day training course aimed at enhancing maritime security within the West African sub-region is underway in Accra.
Dubbed, 15th Maritime Security and Transnational Organised Crime Course, the training course is being facilitated by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) with funding from the German government.
In all, 34 participants made up of military personnel, police, civilians of state and non-state actors drawn from 13 Gulf of Guinea countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroun, are expected to be equipped with the necessary information in helping to deal with insecurity, especially within the Gulf of Guinea.
Opening the event in Accra yesterday, Director of Training, KAIPTC, Col Anorph Barnabas Akanbong, said, despite the importance of maritime to global trade and economic growth of countries, the maritime space had become an arena for conflict through intrusion, exploitation, and attacks by myriad competitors that threaten nefarious actions and violent trends on daily basis.
The Gulf of Guinea, he noted, was a global hotspot for piracy and robbery at sea adding that although there had been a downward trend of piratical activities over the past year, the region remained unattractive to seafarers
Due to the current threat, he said, shipping which was the means by which about 90 per cent of the regions trade was transported had seen tremendous increase in cost because shipping companies have factored the cost of independent security contractors, extra insurance, and, sometimes, ransom money into the overall cost of shipping in the region.
“It is only through combined efforts by coastal states the threat posed by piracy and other transnational organised crimes can be combated effectively,” Col Akanbong stated.
He said the course was designed to equip participants with the requisite skills to explore links to transnational organised crimes and terrorism.
“The benefits are enormous, especially for the security sector personnel within the maritime space. You will be updated on current legislative trends within the Gulf of Guinea region, which supports stakeholders to enforce local, regional and international legislations,” he added.
Apart from building their capacities, Col Akanbong said, the course offers the participants an opportunity to expand their network and urged them to get close to each other, open up and establish relationship for future endeavours.
Political Advisor at the German Embassy in Ghana, Ms Pauline Okkens, said the training programme was consistent with German government’s interest to support the African Union, ECOWAS and member States in developing the capacity of key maritime security actors made up of military personnel, Police, civilians of states and non-state actors.
Maritime insecurity, and particularly piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, she said, continued to be a matter of grave concern to the global community as attacks on vessels and seafarers persist.
She noted that, the evolving and increasing complexities of the modus operandi of pirates in the region as well as increased capabilities to attack vessels at longer ranges beyond 200 nautical miles was attracting the attention of international players.
Citing the suspected piracy attack on Marine Tanker SUCCESS 9 about 370 nautical miles South of Abidjan on April 10 this year as a case in point, Ms Okkens said the porous security situation posed a threat to global shipping and maritime transport as well as undermines the prospects for economic development in countries within the region.
She explained that, concerted efforts over the last decade to mobilise national, continental and global actions to combat the threats posed by piracy and other transnational crimes, have resulted in marginal decline in piratical incidents within the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain in 2022, as per statistics from the West Africa Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO).
Notwithstanding the decline in the number of incidents, she indicated that, the threat of pirate activities in terms of mass kidnapping of crew, destruction to vessels, violence meted out to crew and robbing of crew belongings remained potent.
“This worrying trend can only be reversed through increased capacity building, information sharing, coordination, cooperation and collaboration amongst stakeholders.
This is the motivation for the continuous support from the German government for the training course. Apart from knowledge transfer, the Maritime security and transnational organised Crime Course is to forge stronger network among the participants,” she added.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS