With the proliferation of instruments and institutions over the last decade, the time has come to focus on deconflicting and coordinating the various portions of the maritime security architecture around Africa, said Dr. Ian Ralby, the Africa Center’s faculty lead for maritime law and security.
The remarks were made in an article by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, discussing the significance of emerging maritime security trends in Africa and key developments in adapting to evolving threats.
To begin with, piracy is a land-based problem with maritime symptoms, and although the symptoms have changed, the problems remain, he noted.
Whether it is charcoal smuggling, arms trafficking, or attacks against vessels engaged in other illicit activity, many of the actors who perpetrated piracy a decade ago remain engaged in maritime crime.
In addition to this, insecurity in Yemen has led to a remarkable degree of criminal innovation in the Red Sea, including remote-controlled bomb boats posing a threat to commerce and unmanned submersibles threatening maritime infrastructure. These developments have implications for the entire region.
In response, Dr. Ralby suggested, one of the most effective ways of inspiring African states to take new approaches to securing, governing, and developing the maritime space is to see those approaches working in other parts of the continent. Thus, identifying and sharing success stories and lessons around Africa should be a priority.
Meanwhile, recognizing both new threats and threats that have not been addressed is extremely important, he added.
For example, environmental crimes have not been a major focus of the last decade. Oil and fuel theft, illegal dumping and discharge, and illegal ship-to-ship transfers are occurring daily without the permission of coastal states and are, particularly when oil is spilled, harming the marine environment, as well as eroding the rule of law.
By taking stock of where things stand, African governments can determine what needs to be done to resolve gaps and redundancies that undercut the functionality of the myriad initiatives, he concluded.
Furthermore, doing so can help African governments and cooperative institutions prepare to take on greater challenges as criminals respond to improved maritime law enforcement,
…said Dr. Ralby.