Africa's inland waters, oceans and seas are under pressure. Over the years, traditional maritime activities like shipping and fishing have escalated, while new activities such as aquaculture or renewable offshore energy have also been introduced. However, the upsurge of maritime activities is taking place against a background of insecurity, with various forms of illegal trafficking, deterioration in the marine environment and its biodiversity, as well as the compounded impacts of climate change. Over recent decades, the accumulated revenue losses resulting directly from illegal activities in the African maritime sector add up to hundreds of billions of US dollars, without counting the loss of human lives.

The integrated African strategy for seas and oceans for 2050 (AIM 2050 Strategy) takes into account not only the significant potential that the African maritime sector possesses in terms of the creation of wealth, but also the fact that the Member States of the African Union share common maritime opportunities and challenges, which means that, as many as they are, they also share a major role to play in promoting the political commitment needed to implement this strategy.

The issue of maritime security involves two main areas:

Regional and international cooperation for maritime security

Maritime Piracy
Illicit Fishing
Illicit traffic of all sorts

Maritime Piracy

Modern sea piracy pays little attention to the nationality of the ship attacked. These violent actions take place in the open sea, but also in harbors, anchorages and along the coasts. In 2013, 51 attacks were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea. Moreover, West Africa has been the site of intercontinental transit for a long time: the gateway for cocaine coming from Latin America and headed for Europe. The economic, security and strategic challenges of piracy and drug trafficking are indisputable. The phenomenon calls for a global response that should include a specific legal framework, means of surveillance and response, and sub-regional coordinating bodies. However, only a strong and united Africa can inspire the necessary international coordination that builds on the areas of maritime safety and security.

Maritime Piracy Togo
Illicit traffic of all sorts Togo

Illicit traffic of all sorts

How do we develop security measures that will protect the jobs that depend on the industry?

Illicit traffic threatens the lifeblood of a country's economy, and compromises its capacity to trade with the rest of the world. It is from the port that the products proudly created by the millions of workers, farmers and entrepreneurs of a country leave for distant markets. It is from that same port that goods enter: goods that will be used by the country's inhabitants. But when illicit traffic jeopardizes the course of those goods, it is lawful jobs that are affected. It is therefore important to set up a dedicated organization to combat illicit traffic, and to directly address one of the needs of all countries around the world: that of creating jobs.

Illicit Fishing

Illicit fishing depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, results in distortion of competition for honest fishermen and enfeebles coastal communities, particularly in Africa. It is estimated that illicit fishing causes West Africa the loss of 170 billion CFA francs per year. Africa therefore needs to invest more in the acquisition of efficient surveillance and control equipment in order to fight illicit fishing.

The aim of this item is to create a catch certification scheme for the import and export of fishery products. The summit will also discuss how to use existing technologies to combat illicit fishing.

Illicit Fishing Togo
The Sea as a factor in development Togo

The Sea as a factor in development

How should Africa prepare for an unprecedented increase in trade and commerce?

The cargo ship is the emblem of the globalization of goods, and the world's major ports compete to pick up the traffic. Africa is expecting a sharp increase in commercial trade with the rest of the world, linked directly to its growing middle class. Such an increase in commercial activities requires modern ports where cargos can be exchanged efficiently. How is the continent getting its port infrastructures ready for this increase in commercial activity? What innovations have been planned and which management procedures need to be put in place? What role will digital technologies have in enabling modern docks to better manage the flow of containers?

Conservation of the Marine Environment

Limiting the environmental impact of ports and protecting the biodiversity of our coasts:

Handling dry bulk produces dust that can then contaminate the environment. The transferring of liquids can cause leaks or unexpected spills. Vapor emissions from a shipment can result in air pollution. Poor waste management and loss of shipments can have toxic effects on the oceans. Fishing represents a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of more than 200 million Africans and provides an income for over 10 million fishermen. Freight handling often produces effects that can have negative consequences on the environment. Hence, it is important to develop marine eco-design by anticipating the effects of infrastructure and integrating them into the ecosystem. What are the international best practices to ensure the conservation of biodiversity in the context of a long-term development program? What steps can we put in place in order to measure the ecological quality of port areas?

Conservation of the Marine Environment togo