By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong
Stakeholders on September 8, 2014, proffered solutions to the region’s endemic maritime threats.
In prelude to the inauguration and signing of the headquarter accord in Yaounde of the Inter-regional Centre for Coordination, ICC, for Maritime Security and Safety in the Gulf of Guinea this Thursday, security stakeholders, yesterday, September 8, 2014, discussed how to contain the activities of pirates and terrorists in the region.
Holding at the Yaounde Hilton Hotel, researchers, university dons, politicians, military and maritime sector stakeholders at the international conference analysed the effectiveness of security measures so far tried and also considered the expected paradigm shift with the coming on board of ICC.
Speaking at the opening, Brazil’s Ambassador to Cameroon, His Excellency Nei Futuro Bitencourt, said his country would share its experience in handling maritime security challenges in South America alongside other countries in the region. He noted that as the passageway for most of Brazil’s trans-Atlantic trade, it was in his country’s interest to see the Gulf of Guinea become more secure.
Ambassador V√©ronique Roger-Lacan, Special Representative for the Fight Against Piracy in the French Foreign Ministry, sitting in for Western partners, warned that threats in the region persist because terrorists are also changing strategy. While Navies and Coast Guards in the Gulf of Guinea have been cooperating to stem the threat, there was little collaboration among judicial authorities because of the absence of exhaustive maritime legislation, she regretted. As a result, prosecuting maritime offences committed offshore becomes difficult, Roger-Lacan explained.
On her part, the Resident Representative of the Friedricht Ebert Foundation in Cameroon, Suzanne Stollereiter, called for a holistic approach to the problem, which encompasses social and economic aspects. She said her foundation has since 2009 been assisting in the publication of books to raise awareness on the problem. Opening the conference, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Jean Mendoua – who heads the National Follow-up Committee on the Implementation of the June 2013 Yaounde Resolutions of the Heads of State Maritime Security Summit – described the imminent inauguration of the CIC as a milestone.
Securing the Gulf of Guinea, he noted, remains a challenge for member States of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, GCC.