Iddi Yire, GNA
Accra, Nov 6, GNA – G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea Group (G7++FoGG) 2019 summit is underway in Accra.
The three-day meeting, which is being co-chaired by Ghana and France, is on the theme “Working Together for the Common Security of the Gulf of Guinea”.
The G7++FoGG is composed of Germany, Canada, the United States, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Brazil (observer), South Korea, Denmark, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, the European Union, UNODC and INTERPOL.
The objective of the G7++FoGG is to assist the Gulf of Guinea countries in reforming the security of their maritime areas, harmonizing the various legal frameworks in the fight against maritime crime, strengthening inter-state cooperation, and promoting the blue economy.
The Gulf of Guinea spans a coastline of about 6,000km, stretching from Senegal in West Africa to Angola in Southern Africa.
The Accra meeting was jointly opened by Major Derek Oduro (rtd), Deputy Minister of Defence, and Mrs Genevieve Darrieussecq, the Secretary of State to the French Minister for the Armed Force.
Major Oduro said the Gulf of Guinea plays a major role in the world’s energy supply, provides a means of livelihood to a significant percentage of the populace and serves as a conduit for trade.
“The region abounds in huge quantities of hydrocarbon reserves as well as fish stocks. I must add that the region’s geostrategic relevance goes far beyond oil and fish resources. It also serves as a major shipping route for international shipping bound for Africa, far East Europe and the Americas,” he said.
“These huge economic potentials of the Gulf of Guinea are however, being undermined by myriads of illicit activities generating insecurity in the marine domain.”
He noted that the area was exposed to a multiplicity of threats such as piracy and robbery, illegal bunkering, conduit for terrorist activities and other organised crimes such as piracy and gun-running, smuggling, human and drug trafficking, illegal exploitation of maritime resources and the destruction of the maritime environment through pollution.
He said piracy and armed robbery at sea came at a high cost to everyone with interest in the region; stating that these included payment of ransom and high insurance premium which eventually, were passed on to the consumer.
He said it was therefore, important that all efforts were made to address these challenges.
Major Oduro said addressing these challenges required the collective efforts of states, partners and stakeholders who had interest in the maritime domain.
He said the transnational character of these maritime crimes necessitated cooperation and collaboration if countries were to succeed in their efforts within their shared boundaries and beyond.
“The seamless nature of the seas and oceans make it difficult for a single nation to do it alone. The Government of Ghana, therefore, sees the G7++FoGG initiative as a step in the right direction and will do its best to support this bold initiative.”
He said among the objectives of the Ghana-France co-chairmanship of the Group 2019 was to ensure effective operationalization of the 2013 Yaoundé Code of Conduct Architecture.
Mrs Darrieussecq said together with their UK partner, they were implementing the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade-Gulf of Guinea; adding that this alert mechanism against attacks in the region had proved effective and proven.
She said France was acting within the G7 ++FoGG, created specifically to bring coherence to the action of international partners in support of the architecture of Yaoundé Code of Conduct Architecture.
Major General Francis Ofori, Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, said the presences of participants from across the globe for the G7++FoGG summit in Accra, was a testimony to the growing realization that no single State had what it takes to protect its people, safeguard its interest within its land and maritime jurisdictions.
“Our states engage in international trade with more than 90 per cent of it by sea. The Gulf of Guinea, our maritime domain is one big space that enjoys the confluence of transnational economic resources, state authority, commence but also insecurity; insecurity because it is also a source of rising crime that threatens the sea-based economies”.