Five Pakistani crewmen have been released unharmed after being kidnapped off the Nigerian coast two weeks ago, according to security sources. A ransom was believed to have been paid for the five oil workers, again showcasing piracy as an increasingly lucrative business in the region.
It‚Äôs the latest example of the¬†escalating maritime security concerns in the resource-rich Gulf of Guinea. While piracy off the East African coast has been endemic in recent years, this is now beginning to wane due to international naval patrols. No such agreements are yet in place for the West of Africa but it‚Äôs becoming markedly apparent that this needs addressing.
The Chief of Policy and Plans for the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor, is an advocate of regional and international dialogue to tackle the security issues and allow industry to exploit the significant opportunities that the African market offers.
‚ÄúThe African continent is increasingly witnessing a progressive surge in offshore activities across the broad spectrum of maritime trade and business,‚Äù Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor said.
‚ÄúWith such great opportunities amidst immense resources, many observers believe this presents incredible and exciting markets for the future.
‚ÄúUndoubtedly, many littoral African countries have considerable oil and gas reserves, bountiful fisheries and viable Sea Lanes of Communication.
‚ÄúDespite this, we can all agree that maritime insecurity and illegal activities at sea threaten to undermine the great potential of this continent and therefore no time can be spared in discussing and implementing decisive solutions to these our common problems.‚Äù
Rear Admiral Ogbor‚Äôs comments mark a renewed, pre-emptive effort by Nigeria to work more closely with navies in the region to overcome common problems. This week the Chief of Naval Staff of the Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, met with his counterpart in South Africa to thrash out an agreement that will see greater cooperation between the two African superpowers.
‚ÄúIf we are able to enforce the [proposed maritime] legal framework, it would allow for mutual cooperation by way of training, joint training and exercises by ensuring that we enforce the rights of innocent passage as captured within the framework of free navigation,‚Äù Vice Admiral Ezeoba told Nigeria‚Äôs Daily Times.
‚ÄúAll these will promote the economic development of our continent and ensuring that our maritime bases are safe for other purposes,‚Äù he said.
‚ÄúThe South African Navy and the Nigerian Navy are among the biggest navies in Africa. So, we need to do things together in the area of training and in the area of port visits,‚Äù South Africa‚Äôs Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu told the Voice of Nigeria.
‚ÄúWe have done this before and we need to continue and build more of it. Through these navies coming together, we can mobilize the smaller navies on the continent and say ‘look, in partnership we have a chance of succeeding’.‚Äù
Speaking to¬†Defence IQ, Rear Admiral Ogbor laid out his priories for future meetings between regional navies:
‚ÄúMaking sure governments realise the importance of safety at sea. The economic survival of most of these maritime regions [in Africa] depends on the sea. World governments realise the importance of the sea and I think they‚Äôre ready to work with us.‚Äù
With Nigeria laying claim to 12 nautical miles of territorial seas and 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic ¬†Zone, the Navy needs to work towards further partnership agreements to ensure the security of this vast area.
The next meeting place bringing together all of the key African head‚Äôs of navies and coast guards will be the Offshore Patrol Vessels Africa conference, taking place in Lagos on 27th August. The conference is being organised by the Nigerian Navy in partnership with Defence IQ. To find out more about the event please download the agenda below.
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View the conference agenda here…
About OPV Africa
Offshore Patrol Vessels Africa (OPV Africa)¬†is the stand alone maritime security conference in the whole of Africa. No other meeting of naval professionals involves such an expert and relevant mix of audience and speakers. Part of Defence IQ‚Äôs long standing portfolio of OPV conferences, the Nigerian Navy convinced the OPV team to roll out its brand in the Gulf of Guinea theatre for the benefit of all coastal nations on the African continent.
Visit¬†www.offshorepatrolvesselsafrica.com¬†for more information.