A Regional Plan of Action (RPA) underpinning exchange of information, cooperation, joint action, and capacity-building has been agreed upon to curb Piracy and imporve Maritime Security in Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region
The Eastern and Southern Africa – Indian Ocean Ministers and European Union High Representative held the 2nd Regional Ministerial Meeting on October 7, 2010, Grand Bay, and Republic of Mauritius. The meeting observed Africa borders the major sea lanes of the world and is therefore strategically situated.
Thirty-eight (38) African countries are either coastal or island states. This demands great attention on the part of Africa’s coastal states in terms of protection of the maritime domain that had so far not been comprehensively secured for the African people. The meeting was attended by Republic of Maldives, People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, Russian Federation and US. Also in attendance were UN, AU, INTERPOL, IONS, COMESA, EAC, IGAD, IOC and SADC.
The meeting promised to develop, agree and implement a Somalia Inland Action Plan to counter and prevent piracy. It also decided to encourage States of the region to undertake prosecution of pirates apprehended in the region with the financial and technical support of the international community. The capacity of States within region would also be strengthened to secure their maritime zones.
As the backbone of international commerce, oceans and seas are vital to African expectations in peace, in security, in economic development, transportation, trade, environmental and scientific research, historical and cultural heritage” said African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security when briefing the AU Peace and Security Council on maritime security and safety during the its 242nd meeting held on October 4, 2010.
Indeed, over the past decade, maritime security and safety has become a major challenge for several African coastal countries. Piracy has become a major threat, generating or exacerbating political and social instability in the surroundings. Drug and human trafficking, financing the purchase of weapons, oil spills and other environmental crimes, to name a few, are threats that weaken the continent.
The African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Mr Erastus Mwencha will be iat the headquarters of US Africa Command (Africom) in Stuttgart, Germany, in order to address these issues. Conscious of the impact of maritime security and safety on Africa’s growth AU has put together the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIM-Strategy) aiming to achieve a comprehensive understanding of existing and potential challenges and allocation of resources to identified priorities. It also aims at designing a comprehensive, concerted, coherent and coordinated approach that improves maritime conditions in respect of environmental and socio-economic development.