ECOWAS on track to deliver on maritime security in West Africa
The 3rd Programme Steering Committee (PSC) meeting for the Support to West Africa Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS) project was held late last week, Thursday, 4th November 2021. SWAIMS is a project of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission. The project is funded by the European Union (EU).
The meeting was jointly chaired by Dr Cyriaque Agnekethon, ECOWAS’ Director of Peacekeeping and Regional Security and Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, First Counsellor and Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to ECOWAS and Nigeria. Attending was Col Abdourahmane Dieng, PhD, Head of ECOWAS’ Regional Security Division, as well as representatives of SWAIMS implementing partners: Académie régionale des sciences et techniques de la mer – Institut de sécurité maritime interregional (ARSTM–ISMI, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), the Regional Maritime University (RMU, Accra, Ghana), Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA, an ECOWAS agency), Instituto Camões (Portugal) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Both chairs and the ECOWAS Head of Regional Security commended the implementing partners for successfully bringing activities back on track despite the pandemic. Outstanding achievements include the recent successful prosecution of pirates in Nigeria and Togo with support from SWAIMS’ legal component implemented by UNODC.
ARSTM–ISMI and RMU have jointly trained more than 90 professionals from 12 ECOWAS countries, among them law-enforcement agents, prosecutors and private-sector professionals, while UNODC is running targeted workshops on standard operating procedures to facilitate inter-agency cooperation in maritime security.
Adapting to the new realities of the pandemic, SWAIMS has thus far hosted nine online workshops for civil society organisations (CSOs) and the private sector. In-person events have recently resumed providing succour, training and awareness-raising for those most affected by maritime crime, namely civil society and the private sector.
In addition to current achievements, there is much more in the pipeline including the delivery of rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBS) to ECOWAS’ 12 littoral countries, and technical equipment to all the 3 ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centres (MMCCs), the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Maritime Security in Western Africa (Centre régional de sécurité maritime de Afrique de l’Ouest – CRESMAO) and national Maritime Operational Centres MOCs in the ECOWAS region.
These ongoing efforts by ECOWAS member states with support from the EU have significantly contributed to turning the tide on maritime insecurity, giving rise to anticipation of a brighter and more maritime-secure future not only for ECOWAS member states in particular, but also the global maritime community at large.