Kathy Gibson reports from the Maritime and Coastal Security conference in Cape Town – The navies of Africa need to move past their own selfish interests and work together to secure the oceans that are the lifeblood of the continent’s economies.

Threat to maritime domain is a clear and present danger, says rear admiral Henno Teutoberg, speaking on behalf of vice-admiral JR Mudinu, chief of the South African Navy.

“We know the time is right to operate together,” he says. “Let us create the circumstances to make it possible.”

Teutoberg stresses that all nations are dependent upon the seas for economic success and prosperity. “But the development of a blue economy is only feasible in a secure environment: stability and security must be achieved and maintained.”

Along much of the African coast, security is being carried out by private security companies, he says – and this is not how it should be.

A large part of the problem, he adds, is a lack of governance and coherent policy for achieving a secure maritime environment based on co-operation between nations and agencies.

“There are the Aims 2050,” Teutoberg says. ‘But these are strategies: we need to develop and execute on them. If we are to succeed, we need to seek common ground and set aside selfish interests to benefit the security and prosperity of all.”

The navies of the continent are faced with a number of issues, he adds, and a sustained effort is required.

To help achieve these goals, he adds, consensus needs to be reached on policy and strategy; the legal framework, force structure and design; and co-opertion between all role-players.