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African leaders sign charter on security


African leaders. PHOTO: Footprint to Africa

African leaders. PHOTO: Footprint to Africa

Nigeria and other member-states of the African Union (AU) have signed an African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development to boost security off the continent’s economically crucial coasts.

The deal is hoping to shore up development by tackling maritime crimes like piracy and smuggling.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was also in Lome, Togo to sign the deal said without securing the seas and oceans, the continental ‘blue economy,’ would be jeopardised.

The agreement is aimed at establishing a roadmap on maritime security in Africa and causing development and economic growth through Africa’s oceans and seas.

At a summit in Lome, the capital of Togo, the African leaders signed the charter which is the culmination of previous summits, to provide peace, security and stability on Africa’s blue economy.

After signing for Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the well-attended summit noted that “the blue economy is one of the major areas of focus of the charter,” adding 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,” Osinbajo stated.

The 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,” Osinbajo added.

He emphasized that the focus on the maritime issue is because “as we know 90 per cent of African trade is by the seas, so no matter how we slice it, this is absolutely important to us.”

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.

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