African countries

EU donates 30 boats and forensic equipment to West African countries

The European Union has donated various safety equipment, including 30 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, RHIBs and forensic equipment to the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, in the fight against maritime crime and other security issues.

The boats and equipment were provided under the EU-funded ECOWAS project titled The West Africa Integrated Maritime Security Support Project, SWAIMS Project, a multi-component regional initiative implemented operates in the 15 ECOWAS countries.

This was revealed during a high-level seminar on maritime security organized by ECOWAS in Abuja as part of the European Union-funded West Africa Integrated Maritime Security Support Project.

The equipment, estimated at 5 million euros, is expected to help security agencies in Nigeria and 11 other ECOWAS coastal states to combat the maritime.

The other beneficiary countries are Benin, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.

The Head of the ECOWAS Regional Security Division, Colonel Abdourahmane Dieng, observed that maritime insecurity has been one of the most persistent and intractable threats to maritime communities and economic prosperity in East Africa. Where is.

According to Dieng, turning the tide against maritime insecurity is a collaborative effort that no country or region can tackle alone.

He said: “For this reason, ECOWAS, in collaboration with the Economic Community of Central African States, formulated the Yaoundé Code of Conduct as the basis for broad-based regional maritime security throughout the Gulf of Guinea.

“Aware of this problem and its ramifications far beyond West Africa, ECOWAS launched its integrated maritime strategy in 2014 with parameters for the development of the blue economy based on a coherent security framework. “.

Coordinated Response
Dieng, however, said West African countries need a coordinated set of responses to tackle the scourge of attacks, piracy and armed robbery against ships.

“For this, we have developed an ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy around five pillars to ensure security in the fifteen Member States of the ECOWAS maritime domain.

“And also to strengthen our capacity in terms of managing our maritime environment and also to develop our capacity in terms of the blue economy, and also to develop our culture in terms of maritime matters.

“We are getting support from our partners, the main partner coming in is the European Union and today we are also here with SWAIMS to try to build capacity in Member States.

“Today, all Member States are represented by their competent and equally representative agencies to discuss a draft agreement for the sharing of RIBs.

“And also try to develop the modalities of how to allow member states to be able to use them today,” Dieng explained.

Gulf of Guinea
The EU’s Senior Coordinator for the Gulf of Guinea, Ambassador Nicolas Martinez, said the EU is a committed partner in the Gulf of Guinea region and will continue to provide extensive and targeted assistance to strengthen essential features of Yaoundé’s security architecture while consolidating the long standing relationship between ECOWAS and the EU.

SWAIMS representative Dr Axel Klien said the seminar was part of a larger program to support maritime security in the ECOWAS region.

Klien said the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats would be supplied to the Navy and Coast Guard of all ECOWAS coastal member states and the supply of equipment to maritime operations centres.

This, he explains, will help in the fight against maritime crimes and piracy that have ravaged the coastal lines of ECOWAS countries.

“There are different types of maritime crime, there is piracy and armed robbery, there is also illegal fishing and there is the trade in illicit goods.

“So against all these crimes, the coat guards, the police, the police, the prosecution services, we have to provide them with equipment.

“What we are talking about here today is providing ECOWAS, with funding from the European Union, with thirty digital inflatable boats that can go out to sea and catch the perpetrators.

“And also forensic equipment and communications and other equipment that will help the maritime centers to coordinate these operations.

“If you look at the number of piracy incidents in these regions, you will find that all the efforts made by navies, coast guards and international partners have been successful in reducing the number.

“We must therefore build on this success by strengthening the security system currently in place.

“International cooperation is essential and that is why ECOWAS plays a valuable role for its multinational coordination centers, information exchange and coordination of expenditure,” said Dr Klien.
Training and maintenance

The SWAIMS team leader revealed that the boats and forensic equipment would be provided by Camões of Portugal in close collaboration with the Portuguese Navy, who would also provide related training and maintenance.
“In financial terms, the delivery of RHIBs and forensic equipment worth more than €5 million is the most important component of the SWAIMS project,” he explained.

Besides Camões, other implementing partners of SWAIMS are the Interregional Maritime Security Institute in Côte d’Ivoire, the Regional Maritime University in Ghana, the ECOWAS Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Ambassador Joao Almeida, President of the Camoes Institute, who praised the program, said the institution was delighted to have been commissioned by the European Union to implement the project.

Almedia expresses optimism that the boats and equipment, once handed over, will achieve their goal of combating all forms of maritime crime in the region.

“We have been commissioned by the European Union to be the executors of the project that we are going to have here.

“We will discuss how to move forward with the MoU between the 12 ECOWAS states,” Almedia said.
Vessels and equipment that are expected to significantly enhance recipient countries’ ability to enforce the rule of law in their territorial waters and adjacent exclusive economic zones will be provided by 2024.

Okwuchi Trust

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