ASF to take on continental anti-piracy tasking


The African Union (AU) go-to when armed reaction is needed to stop insurrection, conflict or other violence on the continent will also be part of future maritime security operations off continental coasts.

The African Standby Force (ASF), an AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting heard, plans to stage its first maritime exercise at an as yet unknown date and site.

The exercise’s main aim, according to Dr Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, Director of the AU Conflict Management Directorate, is to enhance ASF preparedness and capability to address maritime security threats in “continental waters”. It is envisaged as a regional exercise targeting member states in the Gulf of Guinea and Indian Ocean.

A PSC communique reports the exercise will lead to enhanced collaboration among countries and strengthen sharing of maritime information and intelligence between member states and regional economic communities (RECs) with shoreline and sea access and responsibilities.

Looking at specifically the Gulf of Guinea, Bah noted large scale piracy there was “a recent phenomenon emerging in the past 10 years or so, gaining momentum as piracy in the Gulf of Aden was decreasing”.

“Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea is predominantly related to theft of oil linked with the regional black market and organised crime. Hostages have been taken but ransoms do not appear to be the driving goal, as was the case in the Gulf of Aden. There are related transnational organised crimes linked to maritime insecurity in the region. These include money laundering and potential linkages with financing terrorist activities inland, along with illegal trade in arms and drug trafficking, equally a serious threat to maritime security in the region,” he is reported as saying.

Among continental initiatives to counter piracy and other illicit maritime activities is the 2013 Yaoundé Code of Conduct. It committed 25 signatories from ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) and ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States) to repress piracy and armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in their areas of responsibility. The Yaoundé Code is the main framework for regional co-operation and information sharing on maritime insecurity.