Africa adopts a Charter to secure its seas

31 of the 53 countries present at the extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) adopted on Saturday « the African Charter on Marine Security and Development”. The summit, held in Lomé, capital of Togo, was to find how to jointly fight against piracy, drug and weapons smuggling and human trafficking along the African shores.
One of the main reason Africa remains the most exposed continent to maritime piracy is that the continent has very few skills and means to counter this situation. Furthermore, the lack of cooperation between countries affected by piracy is a big advantage for pirates and smugglers who can go from one territorial sea to another without hindrance. Indeed, this is one of the lessons learned by the pirates of the Gulf of Guinea at the expense of their colleagues in the Gulf of Aden[1]. Those were operating in international waters and rapidly find themselves confronted with a strong response from the Western countries with interests in the region.
The Lomé Charter must still be ratified by at least 15 countries to enter into effect. The Charter obliges signatory countries to « create a security fund and Marine Security » and to promote access to information even if the signatory countries have no obligation to disclose information « if it is not in the interest national security. « 

Economic zones

The Blue Economy « was one of the central points of the summit discussions. Indeed, Africa accounts for 13 million square kilometres of maritime economic zones and 17% of global freshwater resources.
But maritime transport, ports and industrial fisheries are largely dominated by international interests beyond the continent. Moreover, it’s 90% of African imports and exports via sea and a significant number of the most strategic maritime trade corridors is in the African maritime space. If African countries are able to develop their maritime economy, the continent is expected to more easily finance its own security. The lack of funding is a too recurrently problem for the implementation of African’s projects.
[1] In November 2008, the European Union engages a joint maritime operation called EUNAVFOR (Operation Atalanta), soon joined by the Americans in January 2009 with the Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150), all coordinated by the SHADE (Shared Awareness and Deconfliction).
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