Norwegian company Vissim has been contracted by the government of Benin to deliver a coastal monitoring system to improve maritime safety and security and facilitate international trade.
Vissim announced the contract on 17 January, saying it was signed at a ceremony in Cotonou, Benin, by Minister of Defence Fortunet Alain Nouatin, on behalf of Benin’s government, and Per Henæs, CEO of Vissim.
The €12.5 million contract is funded through an export loan issued by Export Finance Norway. The issued loan is at 85 percent of contract value with ten years maturity. According to the contract, all equipment should be installed and operational within 15 months after contract signing, meaning by April 2023. The contract also covers at least five years’ user support for a fixed annual fee, which comes in addition to the contract value.
“We will essentially digitize the coastline and ocean area offshore Benin, plus the country’s busiest port,” said Per Henæs, CEO of Vissim. “This enables the authorities to enhance protection of the local environment, combat illegal fishing, improve maritime safety, optimize port efficiency, and thereby contribute towards lower greenhouse gas emissions from shipping,”
The core of Vissim’s technology is a software platform which through input from millions of data points creates situational awareness of the geographical area and increases understanding of maritime safety, security and efficiency. Vissim has delivered similar systems to authorities in Thailand and Egypt, plus to numerous offshore wind farms all over the world.
The system provides a real time overview of marine traffic and factors affecting it, such as weather, wind, wave height, tidal conditions and more. It also integrates data from CCTV cameras, the automatic vessel identification system (AIS), weather stations, VHF radio traffic, and drones. The system, including all sensors, will be operational in all weather conditions, around the clock.
“Our software takes all this data and converts it via machine learning to an easy-to-understand overview that is displayed on large screens. Both the ministries of environment, fisheries, customs, coast guard, harbour authorities and police authorities can benefit from the solution,” said Henæs.
Benin’s ministry of environment can use the system to monitor and prevent oil spills and illegal sewage discharge from vessels, while the ministry of fisheries can detect and prevent illegal fishing. Customs can check that vessels arriving in Benin are cleared and thereby prevent smuggling. Harbour authorities can ensure safer entry and departure and more efficient port logistics. The police can utilize the system to prevent piracy, which can be a problem for vessels that are moored in the Gulf of Guinea, Vissim notes.
Vissim’s scope of work includes delivery of four sensor sites along Benin’s coastline. Each of the coastal monitoring base stations will be equipped with CCTV, radars and technology that can detect oil spills. The equipment will cover the entire coastline and up to 25 nautical miles offshore. The company will also supply camera-equipped drones.
Vissim will also deliver infrastructure such as servers and large screens to a 500 square metre control room that is located in Cotonou, which is Benin’s largest port and the country’s economic capital.
“For us, this system means that it will be easier to conduct safe trade with Benin, with the positive social development it entails. In addition, we create fertile ground for new investments that are conditional on a safe coastline and ocean areas, such as tourism and energy infrastructure,” said Romuald Wadagni, Benin’s Minister of Finance.
The contract between Vissim and Benin includes options to further expand the coastal monitoring system. For example, there is a contract option to install transponders on 800 Beninese fishing vessels as part of the efforts to prevent illegal fishing from foreign fishing vessels up to 25 nautical miles offshore.