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GG Summit: Participating Heads of State recommend Synergy in the anti-piracy stride

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The Yaounde Conference Centre, June 24 2013, saw the presence of over ten Heads of State, Heads of Government and representatives of the UN, ECCAS, ECOWAS, and other international partners, to participate in the Summit on Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea. The security lapse in Gulf of Guinea is in focus.

 Stakeholders in the summit are meeting to concert on the existing possibilities and means of curbing the incidence of maritime piracy and armed robbery as well as the illegal exploitation of resource in the Gulf of Guinea. The annual loss to maritime crime in the region is estimated at 2 billion dollars, a figure which alarms member countries. The fear of a continuous increase in losses due to maritime piracy is the reason why Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, ECCAS and GGC are meeting to examine means of reversing the trend.

 In the opening ceremony presided at by President Paul Biya of the Republic of Cameroon, the Government Delegate to Yaounde City Council (host city), expressed delight on the choice of Yoaunde for the Summit and reassured participants about the goodwill of Yaounde inhabitants to join in the fight against maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea.

 On his part, the Representative of the chairman of the African Union Commission stated that the Summit is timely; “…Time has come for Africans to assume meaningful ownership of their maritime resources and safeguard the region”. He recommended comprehensive and interactive strategies to ensure peace and stability thereby prompting sustainable development in the Gulf of Guinea.

 “A united front in this situation promises to be the best approach”. Quoting the UN Secretary General in an address on his behalf, the UN Representative for Central Africa, Abou Moussa stated that once adopted, the regional anti-piracy strategy will receive all necessary financing.

 ECOWAS chair, President Alassane Ouattarra of Ivory Coast signaled that the summit will see debate on a political declaration and  a code of conduct intended to harmonise the fight against piracy.

 Speaking in his Capacity as as chairman of ECCAS, President Idriss Deby Itno recommends synergy between the Gulf of Guinea Commission and technical as well as financial partners.

 President Paul Biya in his turn reminded participants that the Gulf of Guinea is neither just a stretch of water nor just maritime space but it is a rich deposit of resources and a source of livelihood for many. For this reason, President Biya thought it inadmissible for the Gulf of Guinea to be abandoned. He called for collective action in this stride “…let us take up our responsibility and act tirelessly to ensure safety and security in our maritime space. We shall thus be remembered by future generations as peacemakers and the authors of stability in the region”.

 The official opening ceremony of the Summit drew to a close with the projection of a documentary film on the geostrategic nature of the Gulf of Guinea, possible threats and frequency of attacks. It proposed adequate investment on maritime security and the creation of more refineries to boost employment and discourage maritime crime.