Some 600 maritime and naval experts are to meet in Cape Town from 25-27 November to discuss the price of piracy in Africa and the institutional and technical solutions available during the annual Maritime & Coastal Security Africa conference and exhibition.  It is the largest maritime defence and security event on the continent.

Says event producer Tracey-Lee Zurcher:  “the high profile of Somali piracy and the gross proliferation of piracy in West Africa over the past year have brought the issue of African maritime security to the attention of world leaders.  In a response to this, African navies are restructuring their long-term strategies to include frequent littoral maritime patrols in high risk piracy zones. Over and above the proactive response from the African maritime defence industry, shipping companies, the oil and gas sector and high-traffic African ports are also actively taking precautions.”

She continues:  “secure ports and trade lanes are also quintessential to the development of African economies as 90% of trade in and around Africa is seaborne.  With a steady increase of piracy and sea crimes around the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea affecting ports, trade lanes and the economies of surrounding countries, amplified maritime security for ports and shipping lanes has become a focus area for these entities.”

What does poor maritime security cost each year?

* Piracy off the Horn Of Africa costs the industry approximately $7-billion to $12-billion per year;

* Piracy off West African coastline has escalated dramatically in the past year, costing the shipping and offshore industry $1,2-billion in the past year;

* 851 seafarers attacked and pirates are currently holding 589 hostages; and

* Illegal fishing off the African coastline is costing the industry approximately $1-billion per year.

The African Union 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy has a remit to increase wealth creation from Africa’s inland waters, oceans and seas by developing a sustainable blue economy in a stable, safe, secure and environmentally responsible manner.  The International Maritime Organisation has furthermore now extended its commitment to securing sea and trade lanes in Africa by developing a new Code of Conduct for West and Central Africa, similar to that of the Djibouti Code instituted in the East.

The South African Navy, as one of the leading navies in Africa, as well as top economic contributors, Nigeria, Angola and Ghana, have formally endorsed the Maritime & Coastal Security Africa conference and exhibition once again.

Says Tracey-Lee Zurcher:  “South Africa and their maritime neighbours are all actively setting out acquisition requirements to procure inshore and offshore patrol vessels, which are the most cost-effective patrol solutions and are easier to navigate in shallow waters when pursuing high-speed targets in an asymmetrical warfare scenario, such as piracy.  Leading military suppliers including Saab, DAMEN, Denel, Abeking & Rasmussen, Barloworld Power and Selex are in attendance at the expo in Cape Town to display their technology and services.”

Maritime & Coastal Security Africa will host senior representatives from leading navies and high-level decision-making governmental bodies at this year’s event, including:

* Samuel Kame-Domguia, Coordinator: 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy Force, African Union, Ethiopia;

*  Philip Holihead, Head of Project Implementation: Djibouti Code of Conduct, International Maritime Organisation, United Kingdom;

*  Vice Admiral JR Mudimu, Chief of Navy, South Africa;

*  Rear Admiral Ben Bekkering, Director Industry and Trade Support, Ministry of Defence, The Netherlands;

*  Vice-Admiral Valentim Alberto António,  North Naval Region Commander, Angola Navy;

*  Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor, Chief of Policy and Plans Nigerian Navy;

*  Commodore Joaquim Mangrasse, Chief of Staff, Mozambican Navy; and

* Commodore Godson Zowornoo,  Flag Officer Commanding: Western Naval Command, Ghana Navy.

“With these leading organisations and senior decision makers in attendance at this year’s Maritime & Coastal Security Africa, the content and conclusions promise to encourage further alliances for maritime security and support the development of the defence industry in Africa by accelerating the relevant acquisition projects” says Zurcher.