Although Africa is strategically located astride global sea lanes, is navies, such as they are, cannot perform their functions because they have not been nationally identified and prioritised for the continuous allocation of the required resources.
That`s the view of South African Institute for International Affairs Emerging Powers Programme security fellow, Frank van Rooyen, a retired SA Navy captain.
He will tell next month`s defenceWeb maritime security conference that to change the situation around, intervention is required – at national, regional and continental level.
Van Rooyen notes that the limited capacity of African navies to apply force to specific naval challenges has reduced their relevance as an instrument of national purpose.
In terms of shape and size, African navies are insignificant compared to the continent`s landward forces, he adds. Limited resources have caused African nations to favour expansion of land forces at the expense of their navies.
Africa is therefore unique in the developing world in “its preponderance of ineffective navies”.
This he will argue needs to change as navies and coast guards are major national resources and need to be gainfully employed in a number of primary, secondary and collateral ways in order to make a fundamental contribution to socio-economic development.
This includes the effective patrol as well as surveillance of African waters. “The more surveillance there is, the less illegal activity there will be.”
defenceWeb`s Maritime Security Africa 2009 conference takes place from October 13 at the Radisson Hotel at the Waterfront in Cape Town. The event that will last until the 15th is an in-depth look at maritime surveillance, safety and security issues from a pan-African perspective.
Pic: Table Bay harbour, site of the defenceWeb conference and one of the busiest harbours in Africa
For more on this and related maritime security topics, consider attending defenceWeb`s Maritime Security Africa 2009 conference October 13 to 15 at the Radisson Hotel at the Waterfront in Cape Town.