Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration met with the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Ghana and other EU Heads of Mission accredited to Ghana, to discuss the EU’s Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP) as well as other efforts by European countries to eradicate maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Hon. Minister express delight at the EU’s longstanding efforts to safeguard maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and that the Gulf of Guinea connects maritime traffic of multiple continents with its export and import potential, making it an indispensable part of global trade and added that the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon deposits has increased the geostrategic importance of the Gulf of Guinea.
The blue economy potential of the Gulf of Guinea is being undermined by a plethora of illicit activities and insecurities in the maritime domain and observed further that for over a decade piracy and other maritime crimes such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing have been on the rise and are posing serious threats to the safety and security of shipping;
Minister Stated that Ghana is actively engaged in regional efforts to ensure maritime security through the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) (Ghana falls within the maritime Zone ‘F’ of this Centre/architecture whilst other Member States fall within zones ranging from ‘A to G’), which was established by ECOWAS with the aim of developing a regional framework to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea.
The MMCC Zone F, within which Ghana falls, undertakes activities such as the monitoring of ports, fishing activities, oil and gas exploration and critical maritime installations (such as the West African Gas Pipeline).
Zone F conducts profiling of vessels of interest and vessels vulnerable to attack, and shares information with stakeholders and partners at the national, regional and international levels.
Hon Ayorkor Botchwey told the visiting delegation that Ghana welcomes initiatives by international partners such as the EU’s CMP to support Gulf of Guinea countries in their efforts to safeguard the safety and security of the maritime area; Pointed to the existence of regional and sub-regional frameworks in place at the level of the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea and urged the EU and European countries to help in strengthening them to be more efficient.
Minister laid Emphasis on the need to hold broad consultations with key Ghanaian stakeholders in maritime security such as the Ghana Navy and Ghana Maritime Authority to receive more technical and informed inputs specific to Ghana’s maritime security needs.
She Urged the EU to coordinate with Gulf of Guinea countries within the ambit of regional/multilateral organizations such as the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), ECOWAS and ECCAS.
She further Emphasized the need for international partners patrolling the territorial waters of Gulf of Guinea Member States to do so with utmost respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity,and also requested the EU’s provision of a document on the detailed implementation strategy of the CMP for Ghana’s information;
Minister concluded by expressing gratitude to the delegation for the meeting and voiced the hope that the CMP initiative will be successful in stemming the tide of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea to enhance its blue economy potential and improve the socioeconomic conditions of the relevant local communities.