SPAS 2021:  300 Personnel from 33 African Navies/Coast Guards; 6 from US, Denmark, Portugal for Virtual Symposium on Maritime Security Threats

Following the increasing growing local and international concerns about maritime security in Africa, especially the Gulf of Guinea, about 300 naval personnel from 33 African Navies/Coast Guards as well as representatives from 6 foreign partner navies including the USA, Denmark and Portugal are participating at the Virtual Sea power for Africa Symposium (SPAS) 2021.

Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo made this known on Monday in Abuja even as he noted that, “The need for shared solutions and a common approach to the continent’s maritime problems prompted the initiation of a Sea Power for Africa Symposium (SPAS) by the Chiefs of Navies of Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa at the International Sea Power Symposium held at Rhode Island, USA, in 2003”.  

Towards this end, the CNS said, “The primary objective of SPAS 2021 is to promote the integration of Africa’s maritime security surveillance structures, in the context of a sustainable blue economy, based on a common understanding of the dynamics of maritime security threat in Africa.

 Represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral Chris Ezekobe, the CNS said the SPAS 2021 would be a special one as it would be the first to be conducted held virtually owing to the prevailing COVID 19 pandemic that is being faced world over.

Ezekobe continued, “This year’s virtual SPAS will be taking place from Tuesday 30 November 2021 to Thursday 2 December 2021 during which the focus will be on 6 thematic areas. This includes National Hydrographic Capacities as catalyst for Credible Ocean Governance and Tackling Emerging Maritime Security Challenges through Collaborative Regional Framework”.

“Africa’s increasing maritime domain awareness capabilities has been seen as a necessary step in assuring the right security situation to promote the Blue Economy concept in Africa.

It is therefore in this context that the theme for this year’s virtual SPAS tagged ‘Integrating Africa’s Maritime Domain Awareness Infrastructure towards Effective Ocean Governance’ has been articulated to discuss key issues in the existing regional maritime security initiatives and to formulate a structure capable of strategizing the future to preserve global equilibrium and prosperity”.

“Furthermore, a paper will be presented on the topic ‘Ocean Governance and the Blue Economy: The Critical Nexus’. Other topics to be discussed are Integrating Maritime Domain Awareness in Africa’s Maritime Security Architecture; Legal Imperatives of Delimiting African Waters and African Regional Maritime Cooperation: Challenges and Future Perspectives’.

Among the objectives to be attained at SPAS 2021 will include “reviewing the current hydrographic capacities of member states towards better ocean governance, appraising existing collaborative regional frameworks for maritime security and addressing issues and challenges of integrating maritime domain awareness capabilities for enhanced security.

SPAS 2021 will also deliberate “on any existing issues of maritime boundary delimitations for shared resolutions as well as laying the foundation framework for sustainable ocean governance in Africa”.  

Speaking on the expected outcome, Ezekobe said, “We expect it to align with the objectives previously highlighted with a view to defining subsequent post-symposium steps that would culminate into implementation strategies.

These include, “Share and collect experiences from current models in countries with successful track records of implementation of different blue economy areas and work of organizations/platforms with strategies and programs in these areas.

“Identify and promote the best engagement models of the different institutional actors for the successful integration of technological capacities in areas of maritime security and blue economy development     

“Fuse continental and regional partnership towards implementing models and approaches of blue economy initiatives for the maximization of the potential of the oceans.

“Promulgation of decisive collective measures towards eradicating all maritime security threats hindering the development of a ‘Blue Economy Road Map’ for African nation’s and regional economic institutions.”

It would be recalled that the inaugural symposium (SPAS 2005) was held in Cape Town, South Africa, in August 2005 and was followed by the SPAS 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria in May 2006. The third symposium (SPAS 2009) was again held in South Africa.

“The focus of these symposia had been the establishment of a collective approach to address the maritime challenges confronting Africa and boost regional naval capacity” Ezekobe said

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