The annual plenary meeting of the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea was held in Accra, Ghana on November 5-6 2019. Co-chaired by the deputy-Ministers of Defence of Ghana and France, this meeting gathered more than 200 representatives of 21 countries and 9 regional and international organisations: the 15 countries and 3 international organisation members of G7++ FoGG as well as the 19 riparian countries of the Gulf of Guinea, the three African regional organizations, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Maritime industry and civil society stakeholders were also represented.
This meeting was an opportunity for major maritime security stakeholders of the Gulf of Guinea to express their views on the operationalization of the interregional maritime security architecture set up in 2013 and on the way forward to reinforce maritime insecurity fighting.
During the meeting, the EU GoGIN project explained how it supports the 27 centres of the Yaoundé Architecture, alongside the other national and international initiatives. Bertrand Demez, project coordinator, presented the activities and Yvonnick Lanoe, organisation expert, was the rapporteur of the Finance working group. Isabelle Gachie ensured the visibility of the event.
Task force restitution
The first day was dedicated to the restitution of the 5 working groups created in June 2019 during a meeting in Brussels:
Group 1: Legal issues (rapporteur : LCdr Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo, Head of Communication Division, Cameroon Navy)
Following areas for improvement were proposed : (1) harmonisation of the procedures of exchange of evidence and suspects between States; (2) alignment of law directives on the right of prosecution and related legislation; (3) amendment of articles 6 (Piracy repression measures) and 7 (Measures to suppress armed robbery against ships) of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct in order to reinforce law enforcement at sea; (4) adjustments to the legal framework granting boarding of officers on ships of other States.
Group 2 : Finances (rapporteur : Yvonnick Lanoe, GoGIN organisation et finance expert)
The GoGIN expert presented the assessments carried out by the project on the CRESMAC, CRESMAO and ICC operating budgets as ECOWAS was not able to do it.
Group 3 : Maritime domain awareness (MDA) (rapporteur : Commander Yussif Benning, Ghana Navy and MMCC F zone Director)
The group’s work was carried out in collaboration with the GoGIN project. The speaker enhanced the need to set up information exchange procedures involving administrations, maritime industry and sea users and to build a climate of trust between all stakeholders. Regarding information exchange systems, he considers YARIS to be a relevant answer for YA.
Group 4: Education courses and training sessions (rapporteur Captain Alioune Diop, HASSMAR, Senegal)
The group agrees on the need to implement a training and monitoring action plan, already partially elaborated by the ICC, for:
- middle management level employees working for Yaoundé Architecture,
- national maritime agency civil and military staff,
- civil and military staff of national maritime organisations and entities of the Yaoundé Architecture.
Group 5: Blue economy (rapporteur : Mr Binessi Komian Akakpo, Togo)
Following topics of action were identified by this group:
- Develop safe and clean ports and maritime transport,
- Develop local and sustainable fisheries (fishing practices) and aquaculture,
- Encourage local and sustainable maritime economic initiatives thanks to the development of public-private partnerships,
- Develop clean energies, both offshore and renewable,
- Develop ecotourism in the Gulf of Guinea.
Presentations and demonstration on La Somme
The second day took place on board of the French frigate La Somme, where guests joined in the presentation of initiatives to reinforce maritime security (GoGIN, SWAIMS, UNODC, etc.), the debriefing of the Grand African Nemo exercise (GANo) as well as an onboard intervention demonstration in collaboration with the Ghana, Spanish and Belgian navies.
The debriefing of the GANo exercise was done in two phases :
Admiral Lozier, Atlantic maritime prefect, presented the lessons learned from the exercise he coordinated in the Gulf of Guinea waters from October 29th to November 4th including 18 countries of the Gulf of Guinea, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Brazil and the USA. The GANo scenarios were designed in coordination with the CRESs and MMCCs. The GoGIN project deployed 5 observers (MMCC zones D,E,F and G and MOC Banana in DRC).
Cpt Noël Ouboumou, CRESMAO Operations Director, stated that the GANo exercise clearly was an opportunity for the Yaoundé Architecture to evaluate its level of operationalization. The strong participation of partner States shows the international concern about finding solutions to the maritime security issues in the Gulf of Guinea.
Participating in this event, not only enhanced visibility for the GoGIN project but equally allowed to realize the recognition of its actions. In particular, the development of YARIS is now known and some of the YA partners have taken ownership of it. Furthermore, clearly identified action plans have emerged from the working group presentations (training, transnational cooperation, information sharing). These action plans deserve to be supported and monitored by the European projects.
The next G7++ will be co-chaired by USA and Gabon.