Maritime security threats in Africa fall under the spotlight


Chief of the South African Navy, Vice Admiral Mosiwa Samuel Hlongwane, unpacked Africa as the last maritime security frontier, and explored future threats and opportunities, strategies and business opportunities to enhance Africa’s ocean security at the recent Maritime Security Conference in Simon’s Town.

Illegal arms and drug trafficking, piracy, armed robbery at sea, crude oil theft, maritime terrorism, human trafficking, waste dumping and environmental harm, unregulated fishing and overfishing are, according to the Institute for Security Studies, just some of the major threats to African maritime security and issues that Africa needs to take seriously in order to urgently tackle them.

These were some of the topics to come under the spotlight at the 4th annual Maritime Security Conference (MSC) which took place in Simon’s Town on 12 April.

In his welcome address, Hlongwane reiterated that South Africa is a maritime nation trading all over the world, and the need to protect its national interests through naval power is more important now than ever before.

Hlongwane highlighted the fact that Africa remains highly dependent on seaborne trade and the need for African militaries to reprioritise national and maritime security as a component of collective security, stability, and peace.

“We need to draw in other forces, not just military and coast guards – the police, customs and immigration, fisheries, and port authorities all have an important role to play. We need to develop direct communication channels for prompt dissemination of information and intelligence, and for quick response for requests for assistance or support. We need to develop contingencies for security threats, including natural and manmade disasters, work with international friends and partners and welcome their support to improving our maritime security,” he said.

Hlongwane also called on our neighbouring countries and the vital role they play in continually developing our continent and ensuring its security and its future.

Another keynote speaker at the conference included Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Wiseman S Mbambo, who said that maritime security must include the air force as a natural partner going forward. Mbambo echoed the indispensable and intrinsic value of network collaboration across all nations to mitigate against ongoing maritime security threats.