BY ROSE ATHUMANI
TANZANIA is to host the third conference on Maritime Security off the Eastern African Coast, which starts tomorrow in Dar es Salaam and will address issues of good order at sea, alongside focusing on piracy.
The three-day conference with the theme ‘Beyond Piracy,’ will address a number of issues including good order at sea, lessons derived from anti-piracy, the role of technology, cooperation on maritime security, threats to the rising oil and gas industry and developing coastal communities to counter the attraction of piracy.
The themes will be presented by the Faculty of Military Science of Stellenbosch University (SU) in collaboration with the Faculty of Strategy and Military Operations of the Royal Danish Defence College and the University of Dar es Salaam.
The event, to be held at White Sands Hotel and Conference Resort, will be the third conference in an ongoing series of conferences, workshops and publications on strategic theory that stems from the partnership between the Faculty of Military Science and the Danish Faculty located at the RDDC in Copenhagen, both working in the field of strategy and security.
In a press statement issued, Prof Francois Vre√ø of the SU Faculty of Military Science and co-organiser of the conference, said the anti-piracy debate in response to the threats of piracy and armed robberies tended to dominate views on maritime security off eastern Africa.
Prof Vre√ø explained that although piracy was a dangerous threat, claims about its ongoing demise as a result of the pressures by naval forces and progress on land – Somalia in particular – did not entail an automatic return to good order at sea.
“While the ‘piracy-antipiracy’ debate answers a first order question, ‘What is the threat?’ the beyond piracy focus was an attempt to answer a second order question, ‘What constitutes bad order at sea off eastern Africa and what to do about it?'” he explained.
According to the statement, the conference offered a platform for discussion by speakers and delegates from across the globe, such as Southern Africa, East Africa, Europe, the USA, UK and India on the wider topic of good order at sea and to contemplate the ‘beyond piracy’ idea for the region.
“Maritime security is rapidly becoming a recognised African security domain but is somewhat overshadowed by the fixation on piracy as a cover-all term for what is wrong at sea,” added Vre√ø.
He said the conference offered the opportunity to also reflect on other matters such as resource security, policing, developmental perspectives and leadership.
He said this was important in building upon the declared successes of the anti-piracy operations off Somalia in particular, but also to inform the rapidly rising debate on maritime security, piracy in particular, in the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa.
“The combination of African and non-African speakers holds the promise of interesting insights on a matter deemed very important, but largely neglected by African leaders for some period of time,” he noted.
The keynote speaker will be Prof Geoffrey Till from Kings College, London, one of the foremost international academics on sea power and maritime security affairs.
The other speaker will be Mr Johan Potgieter from the Institute for Security Studies (South Africa) who will update delegates on the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS-2050) of the African Union.
The Danish partners are the primary sponsors of the conference and a number of prominent Danish delegates and guests will attend the event.
The Commandant of the Royal Danish Defence College and Prof Thomas Mandrup would be two key guests for their vital role in securing consent and funding for the event.
Other guests include the Tanzanian Minister for Defence, senior naval delegate of the Tanzanian Navy and members of the management of the University of Dar es Salaam.