Nigeria: AU member states sign African Charter on maritime security

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - African Union (AU) member states on Sunday signed an African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Lome, Togo, with the Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that without securing the Oceans, the continental 'blue economy,' would be jeopardised.

Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the summit, noted that "the blue economy is one of the major areas of focus of the charter."

He said that without security, the blue economy-reference for the huge economic activities and benefits derivable from around the waters-is jeopardized especially by such maritime crimes like piracy and smuggling.

"All of the economic activities that take place around the Seas and Oceans are jeopardized, if security is not assured and that is one of the reasons that this Charter is devoted to ensuring security," he said.

Speaking with reporters at the end of the summit, the Nigerian Vice President noted for instance that the Gulf of Guinea and the Horn of Africa in particular "are areas where there had been a lot of piracy and in our case the Delta."

He explained that this is why Nigeria and other AU nations are devoted to the question of security of the oceans.

"The most important thing for us is that we are working with other members-states of the AU to ensure we are able to police the seas and our waters. To ensure that we are able to yield the maximum benefits from the blue economy and that is really why we are here, and so focused on this," according Osinbajo.

He said the focus on the maritime issue is because "as we know 90% of African trade is by the Seas, so no matter how we slice it, this is absolutely important to us."

By signing the charter, African leaders intend to improve security off the coasts, and hope to inspire greater, coordinated economic activities and development.

The Charter is meant to ensure improved information-sharing between coastal countries and others in Africa, a gap pirates and smugglers have taken advantage of in their movements and operations on the African waters. Out of the 54 AU countries, 38 are coastal.

Observers said Africa could have lost as much as hundreds of billion in dollars due to unbriddled activities of piracy and smuggling on the African waters in the past decades.

About 35 African leaders attended the one-day summit.
-0- PANA MON/AA 16October2016

16 october 2016 20:33:40

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