The Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Major General Francis Ofori, says the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of 2020 has recorded 90 percent of the global kidnapping cases.
Major General Francis Ofori, who was speaking to Citi News in Takoradi on the sidelines of a two-week maritime security training in partnership with the Denmark government said the situation has the potential to negatively affect global shipping and increase the cost of commodities if governments allow it to escalate.
“Areas around Somalia in the Gulf of Eden was the hotspot for crimes such as kidnapping and piracy around 2012. Fast-forward to 2020, the International Maritime Bureau has reported that in the first quarter of 2019, there were 38 attacks. Now from the first quarter of 2020, it has risen from 38 to 47 and that’s how alarming it is. Again approximately 90% of all global kidnapping at sea occurred in the Gulf of Guinea. That should give you a sense of how alarming the situation is and therefore the need for a concerted effort to boost security in the maritime domain along the Gulf of Guinea.”
The Commandant, giving possible reasons, said this could be attributable to unemployment, weak governments and desire for quick riches by locals.
Major General Francis Ofori said that the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, KAIPTC, in a collaboration with the Denmark government is training stakeholders on maritime security in a bid to forestall such criminal acts on Ghana’s waters.
“We have been partnering the government of Denmark. We have a three-year programme 2019 to 2021 largely on the objective to enhance a safer maritime domain through knowledge base research product, and also to create a platform for dialogue among stakeholders and then to build capacity. So these three objectives are what is at play in our relationship with the actors in the maritime domain. In Ghana, we are talking about the Navy, Ghana Maritime Authority, Marine Police, the Judiciary, Port and Harbours Authority, CSOs and Private Shipping companies.”
The Maritime Counsellor from the Danish Embassy, Thomas Raahauge Norup who gave the keynote address at the opening day of the two-week Maritime security training told Citi News a lot of investments in the shipping industry is under threat which could affect the price of commodities for consumers.
“Denmark is one of the biggest shipping nations in the world and most shipping lines are Danish and that the Danish government has an obligation to ensure freedom to f navigation and free movement of trade all over the world. At the moment, the Gulf of Guinea is one of the most dangerous shipping route in the world and with a long-lasting partnership with both Ghana and Nigeria, Denmark is fully committed to the safety of shipping in the Gulf of Guinea. It is impacting everyone including international sailors who risk their lives on the Gulf of Guinea risk being kidnapped.”
“It is impacting you and me who have to pay more for commodities or books for students. So this is a problem that involves everyone and that is why we feel committed and supporting this fight against Maritime crime. The code of conducts are there and governments should ensure both trust-building and implementation of the code of conduct which the government of Denmark is committed to and also the EU to further enhance it,” he added.
Twenty-five stakeholders from the Navy, Judiciary, Marine Police, Fisheries Commission, private shipping companies and civil society organizations are currently participating in the ongoing two-week maritime security training in Takoradi.