Germany consolidates donation of maritime safety equipment to ECOWAS14 Mar, 2018
Accra, March 14th 2018. With the handing over of maritime security equipment at the Multi-national Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC), Zone F, in Accra, Ghana, on 13th March 2008, Germany is consolidating its maritime safety support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The equipment, standing at a cost of 1.2 million Euros, consist of 18 items-a Barrett long range telecommunications device including nautical and marine radio facilities, satellite communication radio, computers, monitors and voltage regulators, a Mast as well as minibus and their accessories.
The MMCC will help among others, to promote cooperation among Member States’ Navies and maritime law enforcement agencies and augmenting marine capabilities among naval forces in order to protect their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and bolster the ECOWAS security architecture with enhanced maritime security through joint operations.
At the handing over ceremony, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Gen Francis Behanzin lamented that the maritime domain which is the backbone of West African economies has been severely threatened in recent years by illicit activities such as crude oil theft, hostage taking, smuggling, drug and human trafficking, illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, illegal migration, piracy attacks and dumping of toxic waste among others resulting in huge loses of revenues in billions of dollars to coastal countries in the region in addition to hampering the gateway to global markets for exports, imports and other trade facilitation to landlocked economies.
Speaking through the Head, ECOWAS Regional Security Division, Col Dieng Abdourahmane, the Commissioner noted that the zone F handing over ceremony is a testament of ECOWAS’ progression in the operationalization of all the maritime Centres with the support of its strategic partners.
He commended the government of Ghana for the bold step taken to get the MMCC functioning while thanking the German development agency, the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) team for their dedication and continuous support in the setting up of the ECOWAS Maritime Centres.
The Ghanaian Defence minister represented by his deputy Major Derek Oduro (Rtd) echoed the words of Admiral Mahan who was quoted as saying “he who controls the sea, controls the wealth of nations” to emphasize the importance and uniqueness of the ceremony.
The Defence chief stated that the transnational character of the maritime crime has made it necessary for countries to cooperate in fighting illicit maritime activities within their shared boundaries.
In his remarks, the German Ambassador to Ghana Mr. Christopher Retzlaff maintained the stance of both Germany and the international community on the support for the gulf of Guinea countries and their regional organizations in order to “provide a common situation picture and prosecution of the perpetrators of piracy, armed robbery and other crimes at sea”
He stressed that a special focus of the German government’s strategy for Africa is on strengthening the African Peace and Security Architecture and promoting an African-owned system for crisis management.
Additionally, he disclosed that the German Federal Foreign Office is funding a Maritime Security Transnational Organised Crime training course at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) in order to increase capacities of international personnel of all the Maritime Coordination Centres.
A fully functional Multi-national and regional coordination Centres will enhance regional information/Intelligence exchange, training and capacity, establish and expand operational networks among law enforcement entities operating at seaports and other strategic posts, and encourage ECOWAS Member States to establish specialized units for ports control or mobile boundary operations in key areas while developing and strengthening cooperation on patrolling, surveillance and information gathering systems.
In line with the mandate for an ECOWAS holistic maritime policy framework and the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS), the region has three maritime areas consisting of Zone E (Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Togo), Zone F (Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) and Zone G (Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Senegal).