Work is to start next month on a regional maritime information centre (RMIC) for the western Indian Ocean.
The European Union-funded project, initiated by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), will be located in Madagascar, it was decided at last week’s African Union (AU) maritime security meeting in Seychelles. Madagascar was competing with Seychelles – which already hosts IOC’s Anti-Piracy Unit and the regional maritime crime information centre Reflecs3 – and Mauritius to host the project.
The centre is intended to ensure the safety and security of the estimated 7,000-8,000 ships that sail every day between Africa and Southeast Asia, and specifically the 2,500 vessels that transit daily the 230 nm-wide, 860 nm-long Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and the east African mainland.
The facility will bring together, process, and analyse maritime information for the 4,000 nm of sea passage between the Horn of Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. Under its EUR37.5 million (USD42.7 million) EU-funded MASE maritime security programme, IOC is also improving maritime surveillance capability and co-ordination in the region.
According to IOC secretary-general Jean-Claude de l’Estrac, quoted in Témoignages, “These two complementary initiatives are keystones of a maritime security architecture for the whole of eastern and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.”
Madagascar is confident that, by hosting the RMIC, it will benefit from increased traffic at its ports. Despite current low oil prices, east African countries and the Indian Ocean islands remain optimistic that there will soon be a trade dividend as offshore oil and gas fields come on stream.