Honourable Ministers of state
Chief of the Defence Staff
The Inspector general of Police
Chiefs of Navies from Sister African countries
Very Senior Officers Esteemed Speakers and Exhibitors of the 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with pleasure that I deliver this key note address at the third Coastal and Maritime Surveillance Africa Conference and Defence Exhibition here in Accra.
For us in the Gulf of Guinea region, Maritime security has become a major issue confronting us in our quest for accelerated Development. I am informed that previous editions of this conference attracted large patronage from across the world and has become the largest such event in Africa. It is the vision of the Nana Akufo-Addo Government to make Ghana the most attractive place for investment in Africa. This conference and exhibition, which has the potential to attract technological transfer and investment to our country is therefore in line with our vision and we would give it the needed support.
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 for us in the sub-region, pervasive insecurity in this resource-laden maritime environment has resulted in more than $2 billion in annual financial losses, significantly constrained investment and economic prospects, growing crime and potentially adverse political consequences.
Based on this awareness, national, regional and international initiatives and strategies have been proffered as solutions to the growing threat.
As we develop and validate national and regional strategies for maritime security, it is important that we continue to seek new solutions to effectively deal with the threat. New concepts are emerging and so are new technologies being developed worldwide on a daily basis.
We in Ghana have been approached with several products from across the world as possible solutions to our maritime security challenges. As you may be aware, coastal and maritime surveillance is a major operational function of maritime security. Bringing together the Experts and Professionals to discuss and also have a first-hand assessment of the various products and solutions is surely the best way to determine the way forward.
It is in this light that I find the Coastal and Maritime Surveillance Africa Conference and Defence Exhibition timely and an opportunity for us in Africa. Assembled here today are some of the world's best experts in Maritime Security and Surveillance. We also have Chiefs of Services and Senior Commanders from across Africa and beyond. With all these personalities present, together with the global defence industries with proven, cutting-edge technologies ready to exhibit their products, I have no doubt that we would have an excellent Conference and Exhibition.
Our dear country discovered oil in the offshore region in 2007 and commercial production at the Jubilee Field started in December 2010. Since then, several more discoveries have been made in the offshore region. Currently there are two Floating Production, Storage and Offtakes (FPSOs) stationed at the Jubilee and TEN Fields to process and export crude oil. The third one for the Sankofa Field is currently on its way and would be arriving soon. These together with several Mobile Drilling Units and Seismic Activities ongoing offshore makes our Maritime Domain a critical national asset with its attendant vulnerabilities. Our Government is determined to equip the Ghana Navy and other stakeholders adequately to be able to protect and preserve those critical national assets. The recently read Budget has captured the purchase of two offshore vessels with helicopter landing facilities for the Navy. 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.
Maritime security is a collaborative effort involving many other agencies and neighbouring countries since there are no physical boundaries at sea.
Efforts are underway to equip other agencies such as the Marine Police, the Attorney-General's Department and Judiciary to be able to effectively prosecute Maritime offences. 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 Castle, former seat of Government, has been released and renovated for the purpose. We are now awaiting pledged equipment for the project to commence.
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. Ghana has remained an Island of Peace in the turbulent Gulf of Guinea, where piracy incidents are reputed to be the highest in the whole world. We are committed to helping out our neighbours to achieve similar levels of stability because whatever happens in the region has a ripple effect on all neighbouring countries.
In charting a course to protect these offshore resources, it is important that we get the best both in terms of effectiveness and cost.
We are also looking for long term partnerships with industry and standardization across the region rather than one off sales with short warranty periods. I therefore charge my Service Chiefs to work closely with their counterparts in the region to assess the products and solutions to be exhibited here with the aim to identify Regional solutions. I am happy to see the presence of some of our great international allies from the USA, Europe and other parts of the world. We thank you for your commitment to our cause.
I would like to congratulate the Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Kofi Faidoo for his great vision and leadership in making this conference a reality. I would also like to commend the Planning Committee for their great effort and to thank the International Quality and Productivity Centre (IQPC) for accepting to partner the Ghana Navy in organizing the Conference. I hope this great partnership would live on and I look forward to more of such initiatives.
I take this opportunity to welcome you all to our beautiful city, Accra. Please take time off to enjoy our proverbial Ghanaian hospitality.
On this note, I have the singular honour to declare the 2017 Coastal and Maritime Surveillance Africa Conference and Defence Exhibition duly opened.
Thank you and wish you