African naval chiefs attending the 3rd Sea Power for Africa Symposium that wrapped up in Cape Town last night say the continent’s people and leaders must pay more attention to maritime security.
They called on Africa`s people and governments – including those living in landlocked states – to realise the importance of the seas in their daily lives.
The British Royal Navy`s assistant chief of naval staff Rear Admiral Robert Cooling, attending as an observer, noted “sea blindness” was not limited to SA or Africa, but was common in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Nigerian Navy Rear Admiral Ola Saaid Ibrahim said a mind shift is needed to realize the importance of the maritime domain. He also lamented that Africa lacks the political will to adequately invest in maritime security.
South African Maritime Safety Authority CEO Tsietsi Moklele added that of SA`s total gross domestic product of US$270 billion (two trillion rand), 50% was generated by trade with other countries, 98% of that by sea. (The rest came from domestic production and consumption.)
In a series of resolutions adopted at the end of the symposium, the Africa`s naval leaders called for greater continental and regional co-operation.
The continent`s naval leaders say there is a “need for structured continental and regional co-operation to address matters of maritime security and governance, whether these be in the form of bilateral, multi-lateral or other agreements or arrangements.”
Areas highlighted in the resolutions are joint surveillance, law enforcement, inter-agency co-operation, hot pursuit agreements, data sharing, command and control integration, hydrography and training support.
The naval leaders add there`s a need for “maritime interaction with overseas partners”, meaning international navies, “to enhance interoperability, information sharing and international stability.”
They further resolved to harmonise “Force Structure Element capability requirements” in the form of common ship design, technologies and logistic as well as administration support.
Another resolution adopted was the “need for the generation of the comprehensive maritime security policy for Africa which develops maritime dimensions to address threats to the maritime security of the Continent.”