Abuja, 8 April 2022 (TDI): The Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Geoffrey Onyeama met with the EU Senior Coordinator for the Gulf of Guinea, Nicolas Berlanga. On the other side, Lagos Commissioner for Transport, Frederic Oladeinde met Berlanga and other representatives
In the meeting with Berlanga; the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, and representatives from Italy and France were also present.
The topic of the meeting was around promoting Nigeria-EU cooperation on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. The meeting between Frederic Oladeinde, and the other representatives was to explore possible collaboration in Maritime Security between Nigeria and the EU.
Received Mr. Nicolas Berlanga, EU Coordinator for Maritime, Gulf of Guinea,and Ambassadors of some EU member states accredited to Nigeria and Senior EU Maritime officials. Discussed Nigeria/EU cooperation on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.@NigeriaGov @EUinNigeria. pic.twitter.com/5a2y0xcAQW
— Geoffrey Onyeama (@GeoffreyOnyeama) April 6, 2022
MARITIME SECURITY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
The Gulf of Guinea is the main route for oil and gas and cargo transport between Central and Southern Africa. The Gulf stretches from Senegal to Angola. Furthermore, it’s important to mention that every day, 1,500 fishing vessels, tankers, and cargo ships navigate through the Gulf.
Due to high unemployment, weak security, and poorly enforced maritime laws along the West African coast; the gulf became a hotspot for piracy. According to the International Maritime Bureau, in 2020, there were 84 attacks against ships in the Gulf of Guinea, and 135 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom.
Incidents of kidnapping for ransom in the Gulf of Guinea increased by almost 50% between 2018 and 2019, and by around 10% between 2019 and 2020. The region now accounts for more than 95% of all kidnappings for ransom at sea.
THE EU STRATEGY FOR THE GULF OF GUINEA
In June 2013, the governments of countries in and around the Gulf of Guinea signed the “Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa”. It is also widely known as the “Yaoundé Code of Conduct”. In 2014, the EU adopted an EU Strategy for the Gulf of Guinea to support the objectives of the ‘Yaoundé Architecture’.
The EU has worked closely with coastal states and maintains cooperation with regional organizations and key international organizations. The objective of this cooperation is to improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
EU Senior Coordinator for Gulf of Guinea @NBerlangaEU, along w/ Head of EU Del to Nigeria & ECOWAS @SamuelaIsopiEU & reps from Italy & France today met the Lagos State Commissioner for Transport, Frederic Oladeinde to explore possible areas of collaboration in Maritime Security. pic.twitter.com/U1oR2XlKVx
— EU in Nigeria 🇪🇺🇳🇬 (@EUinNigeria) April 6, 2022
To promote capacity building of coastal states in the region; the EU has launched a series of programs and also projects. Those programs focus on legal frameworks, operating rules, information sharing, training, and also capacity building.
For example, the EU is supporting Integrated Maritime Security in West Africa with €28 million from 2019; aimed at supporting the implementation of the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy and improving maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea, with particular attention to improving enforcement and governance frameworks, capacity, and implementation.
NIGERIA’S EFFORTS FOR MARITIME SECURITY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
In November 2021; Nigeria agreed to implement the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) whole-of-government maritime safety program to improve the security situation. The program consists of comprehensive workshops and tailored support designed to help IMO member states develop national maritime safety committees, risk registers, and strategies.
In 2021, following an increase in piracy incidents in 2020; Nigeria launched the $195 million Deep Blue Programme to secure the waters of the Gulf of Guinea. Moreover, the program involves the procurement and deployment of high-tech equipment, including ships, weapons, drones, helicopters, and satellite communication systems.
Nigeria’s policy on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea is increasingly international; with an emphasis on upgrading equipment and the application of science and technology. Therefore, future cooperation between Nigeria and international partners such as the European Union is likely to deepen.