African States Establish New Piracy Center
The Economic Community of West African States has inaugurated a maritime coordination center for the most dangerous piracy zone in West Africa.
In doing so, the community (ECOWAS) has reaffirmed its commitment to tackling the problems of piracy, fuel theft and other illegal operations in the region.
The area covered by the center will include Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, and it will coordinate joint activities including patrols, information sharing and training initiatives.
According to local media reports, Nigeria intercepted over 80 ships conducting illegal activities in its waters in 2014. The country also reportedly loses $2 billion each year due to oil theft.
The center’s establishment has been achieved through the work of ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, and is part of a range of actions agreed at a summit in June 2013, says Barthelemy Blede, Senior Researcher, Conflict Management and Peacebuilding Division, at the Institute for Security Studies, Dakar.
“The international community and all other actors in the maritime industry must increase support for these efforts,” says Blede. IMO, the EU and several countries including France, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Japan and China already provide assistance in the region.
“Assistance should go beyond the writing of strategies, training courses and simulation exercises,” says Blede. “The region also needs to increase its material resources in terms of naval assets and maritime aviation capabilities if it is to respond appropriately to brutal maritime attacks.”