Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Improving maritime security and safety in Africa

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, October 11, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)

Thirty-eight (38) African countries are either coastal or island states. “Africa borders the major sea lanes of the world and is therefore strategically situated. This in and of itself demands great attention on the part of Africa’s coastal states in terms of protection of the maritime domain that had so far not been comprehensively secured for the African people. As the backbone of international commerce, oceans and seas are vital to African expectations in peace, in security, in economic development, transportation, trade, environmental and scientific research, historical and cultural heritage” said African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security when briefing the AU Peace and Security Council on maritime security and safety during the its 242nd meeting held on 4 October 2010.

Indeed, over the past decade, maritime security and safety has become a major challenge for several African coastal countries. Piracy has become a major threat, generating or exacerbating political and social instability in the surroundings. Drug and human trafficking, financing the purchase of weapons, oil spills and other environmental crimes, to name a few, are threats that weaken the continent.

In this regard, Mr Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission has been invited at the headquarters of US Africa Command (Africom) in Stuttgart, Germany, in order to address these issues. Conscious of the impact of maritime security and safety on Africa’s growth AU has put together the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIM-Strategy) aiming to achieve a comprehensive understanding of existing and potential challenges and allocation of resources to identified priorities. It also aims at designing a comprehensive, concerted, coherent and coordinated approach that improves maritime conditions in respect of environmental and socio-economic development.

SOURCE: African Union Commission (AUC)