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Strategy to improve maritime security in the offing

By: Emmanuel Bruce
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Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan(seated middle) with other dignitaries
Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan(seated middle) with other dignitaries

The Steering Committee of the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), a bilateral security collaboration between Ghana and the United States is in the process of drafting a National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS) which is aimed at improving maritime security in the country.

The strategy, which is close to completion, seeks to present a more holistic view of maritime security to include a whole-of-government collaborative framework.

The framework will integrate, align and coordinate the efforts of maritime agencies in the maritime space while a coherent implementation strategy will provide a clear roadmap for progress in the area.

This was disclosed by the Head of Delegation of the SGI, Mr Michael Arietti, at its fifth steering committee meeting in Accra.

He said the committee had also been following recent discussions about the serious problems that had arisen from the dramatic fall in Ghana’s fish catch which was now at only 14 per cent at peak levels and expected to affect the livelihoods of about 2.5 million people involved in the industry.

“We hope that improvements foreseen by the maritime strategy will assist the government of Ghana in addressing this problem,” he noted.

Border security
Regarding border security, Mr Arietti said the committee had been informed about the development of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) which was signed on January 24, 2019.

He said the aim of the agreement was to institutionalise cooperative agreements for border management among stakeholder agencies.

“I look forward to hearing the details of other achievements in this focus area, including the process of establishing a National Border Security Fusion Centre and the drafting of a National Border Security Strategy”, he stated.

Cyber security
Mr Arietti also pointed out that Ghana had passed a significant milestone in cyber security by acceding to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime which entered into force in the country on April 1, 2019.

“Since then, we understand that Ghana has been deeply involved in the review and revision of its National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS), as well as developing its technical capacity and expertise in the cyber security area,” he stated.

He said the committee was looking forward to how the process was moving and how the United States could best support the two countries shared interest in promoting enhanced cyber security.

“I would also like to note that there has been a successful related programme run by the FBI which has provided training and equipment to enable Ghana’s police and other agencies to investigate and prosecute cyber crimes such as money laundering and fraud,” he noted.

Goals of SGI
The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Stephanie Sullivan, for her part, indicated that the goals of the SGI was to improve security in the country’s maritime industry, borders, cyber space and judicial system.

In the maritime area, she said the SGI was focusing on effective measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; piracy; oil bunkering; a thriving oil and gas sector and increased port revenues.

On border security, she said, an effective border management would increase trade and customs revenue by ensuring a safe and efficient movement of goods and people.

In the cyber security space, she noted that promoting best practices and developing effective defences would facilitate a thriving digital economy and enhance Ghana’s doing business standing,