Vice President Dr Bawumia (middle) and the other dignitaries inspecting the exhibition during the opening ceremony
Government is planning to establish what Vice President Bawumia has described as ‘a forward operating base’ at the western border and to train and equip Special Forces for emerging maritime threats.
He says, “There is growing awareness that the vast resources and potential in the Gulf of Guinea are being undermined by multifaceted domestic, regional and international threats and vulnerabilities.”
Rather than contributing to stability and economic prosperity in the sub-region, he indicated that “Pervasive insecurity in this resource-laden maritime environment has resulted in more than $2 billion annual financial losses, significantly constrained investment and economic prospects, growing crime and potentially adverse political consequences.”
Speaking at the ‘Coastal and Maritime Surveillance Africa Conference and Defence Exhibition’ in Accra yesterday, the vice president stressed the need to protect the country’s territorial waters against pirates and other potential threats, in view of the discovery of oil and its production.
Considering the fact that two Floating Production, Storage and Offloadings (FPSOs) have been stationed at the Jubilee and TEN Fields to process and export crude oil and the fact that the third one for the Sankofa Field is currently on its way and would be arriving in the country soon, he noted, “These together with several Mobile Drilling Units and Seismic Activities ongoing offshore makes our Maritime Domain a critical national asset with its attendant vulnerabilities.”
He assured, “Our government is determined to equip the Ghana Navy and other stakeholders adequately to be able to protect and preserve those critical national assets.”
That, he said, was evident in the fact that “The recently read budget has captured the purchase of two offshore vessels with helicopter landing facilities for the Navy” and that “There are also plans to establish a forward operating base at the Western Border and to train and equip Special Forces for emerging Maritime threats.”
Dr Bawumia also talked of efforts to equip other agencies such as the Marine Police, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Judiciary “to be able to effectively prosecute Maritime offences.”
Apart from that, he revealed, “We have also been working with our neighbouring countries under the auspices of the Yaounde Accord and Code of Conduct for Maritime Security agreed at the Summit of Heads of States in Yaounde in June 2013.”
Under the accord, a number of Maritime Multinational Coordinating Centres were established across the Gulf of Guinea, and Ghana accepted to host the Coordinating Centre for Zone “F” – comprising Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the landlocked country of Mali.
Part of the Osu [Christianborg] Castle, former seat of government, has been released and renovated for the purpose, with government awaiting pledged equipment for the project to commence.
For Dr Bawumia, “These are all indications of our government’s commitment to Maritime Security to protect not only our offshore assets, but also our fishing industry and external trade.”
Present at the event were the Ministers of Defence, Interior, Transport, the Inspector General of Police, Service Chiefs and Chiefs of Navies from sister African countries
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent