|The Chiefs of Naval staff of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone as well as the Chief of Coast Guard of Liberia and the high Commander of the National Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso have signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint maritime operations in the ECOWAS maritime zone, on the 25th of July 2019, in Accra, Ghana.
The MoU signing ceremony which was witnessed by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security (PAPS) Gen Francis Behanzin, will provide among others, an important response to threats to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Majorly, the Heads of Navies, Coast Guard and Gendarmerie endorsed the Multilateral Agreement which established the Maritime Zone F and the Protocol which established the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) also for Zone F, which was signed on the 31st of July 2018 in Lomé, Togo by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.
The signed MoU entails the needed collaboration, coordination and the pooling of resources for collective security and safety of Zone F Maritime Domain to enhance the work of the existing MMCC as part of measures to galvanize the cumulative strengths of the member states through joint and combined maritime operations against criminality.
The initiatives of the states which is in aid of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), is critical to the emergence and sustainability of their “Blue Economy”, which covers different sectors including fisheries, tourism, transport, trade, offshore exploitation.
The communique released at the end of the meeting further said that Heads of Navies, Coast Guard, Gendarmerie reaffirmed their commitment to the Yaoundé Process and their commitments relating to the prevention and repression of acts of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activities in West and Central Africa.
They also upheld their commitment to the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS as part of measures to secure the ECOWAS maritime space and sections which provides for the establishment of Maritime Zones E, F and G as well as all the adopted Acts on maritime security.
Before rising, the Heads of Navies, Coast Guard, Gendarmerie expressed their gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission, the United Nations office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Kingdom Government, Centre for Maritime laws Africa (CEMLAWS) among others for their support for the maritime security processes.
ECOWAS Heads of States in conjunction with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) had adopted the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and MoU at their summit in June 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroon which also established a new Inter-Regional Architecture composed of five interconnected multi-national maritime Centres and 17 national maritime Operations Centres.
The Accra gathering was the first meeting by the chiefs of naval staff, the chiefs of coast guard and the chiefs of staff of ECOWAS national gendarmerie states in the maritime Zone F.
The meeting was also attended by Ambassadors of the concerned countries and partners as well as Directors and representatives of relevant agencies and institutions.