African Heads of State and Government met in Lomé, Togo, on 15 October for a high level summit on maritime security. As the outcome of the summit they agreed on the ‘Lomé Charter’ that should be a next step in ensuring maritime security in Africa.
European shipowners strongly welcome this summit and the interest African states take in the topic. ECSA was pleased to be invited by the Togolese authorities to take part in the discussions around this summit.
Concerning the continued piracy situation in the Gulf of Guinea ECSA finds it alarming and called for urgent actions to be taken to make sure seafarers can do their job in a safe and secure environment, without risk for life.
“The maritime economy offers good employment opportunities, and often this starts from a career at sea”, commented ECSA’s representative, Wilfried Lemmens, Managing Director of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association. “When it comes to African academies however, international recognition is often missing. We encourage African partners to make sure they are aligned with international standards (IMO STCW recognition) and stand ready to support this process,” he added.
In the event the EU showed its commitment to maritime security in the area by initiating a new capacity building project. Commissioner for environment and maritime affairs, Mr Vella, together with the ambassador for Denmark, launched the Gulf of Guinea Inter-regional Network (GoGIN) project in the presence of Western African States. This EU/DK funded project aims at capacity and knowledge building. It will support the region in achieving the necessary tools and skills to set-up and implement effective maritime cross-sectorial regional decision-making and coordination mechanisms.
ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven: “We strongly support this project and overall attention from the EU for our security concerns in the Gulf of Guinea. Capacity building is a very important step. The Lomé Charter should ensure that more steps will be taken by the regional States to have more secure seas and ports to the benefit of the overall trade environment.”