Welcome address

WELCOME ADDRESS FROM H.E. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, President of the Togolese Republic

Dearest Sisters,
Dearest Brothers,
Dearest Friends,

To all those taking part in the Lomé conference, I extend a warm, cordial and fraternal welcome to Togo.

On behalf of the Togolese people, its government and on my own behalf, I welcome to Togo this special session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, on maritime safety and development in Africa.

By hosting this conference of great ambition, Togo wishes to confirm its interest in and commitment to the cause of our continent.

Africa’s place in global politics is undeniable: it is geopolitically, geostrategically and geoeconomically of great importance to the state of international relations.

For this reason, the numerous factors of destabilization by both land and sea can hardly leave neither African States nor Africans indifferent.

We are aware of the dangers that threaten our countries and our people, and conscious of the urgent need to mobilize resources at our disposal, in particular our seas and oceans. In response, the African States decided in Malabo to hold, at Togo's initiative, an extraordinary session on Maritime Security and Development in Africa. This session will be held in Lomé on 15 October, 2016.

During this conference, a variety of issues will be discussed including those related to: maritime insecurity marked by acts of assault, piracy, armed robbery, illicit trafficking at sea, illegal fishing, preservation of marine life, the sea as a factor for development, and regional and international cooperation to safeguard maritime safety.

In addition, the conference will consider appropriate means to curb criminal acts that are a serious breach to peace, security, and the navigation of the African seas, especially in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

In terms of development, the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM Strategy) will be at the heart of the Lomé conference. We will seek a more sustained implementation plan and develop a road map to create greater wealth through the promotion of a thriving, sustainable, secure and environmentally friendly blue economy.

It is thus important for Africa, supported by the international community yet determined to pave its own path, to equip itself with the necessary means to curb criminal acts at sea. It is also vital to invest in the realization of the 2063 vision of the African Union for Africa, which offers palpable social and economic progress for the continent.

I am convinced that Africa can take control of its own destiny, and my hope is that the Lomé Conference will yield concrete and conclusive results to quickly achieve our goals of peace, stability and development for Africa.