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A project aiming at better security and the safety of maritime routes across seven African countries in the Gulf of Guinea was announced in January by the European Union.
The Critical Maritime Routes in the Gulf of Guinea Programme (CRIMGO) seeks to help governments across west and central Africa to improve safety of the main shipping routes by providing training for coastguards and establishing a network to share information between countries and agencies across the region.
Announcing the project, Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said: “Without security, development can never properly reach the people it needs to. That’s why our new project, which will help to boost transport security in Western Africa, is so crucial. By making the waters safe, we are helping to boost trade and growth and provide more opportunities to make a living, which these countries so desperately need.”
The project will be rolled out from January 2013 in seven African coastal states: Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Sâo Tomé and Principe and Togo.
The Gulf of Guinea currently accounts for 13 per cent of oil and 6pc of gas imports to the EU. However, piracy and armed robbery, as well as drug, arms and human trafficking, pose a threat to the security of the region. In Nigeria alone, some 98 cases of piracy, armed robbery at sea and marine pollution were recorded between 2008 and 2012.
According to the EU, the region suffers from a lack of coordination between coastguards, and between regions. There is no common standard for maritime training, and weak conditions for information sharing between the countries.
The EU will provide 4.5 million euros for the CRIMGO project under its Instrument for Stability.
Other partners in the project include the France Expertise International (FR), the Direction de la Coopération de Sécurité et de Défense (FR), the Direção-Geral do Polítca do Mar (PT), the Fundación Internacional y paralberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas (ES), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (FI), the International Maritime Safety Security Environment Academy (IT), and the Szczecin Maritime University (PL).
About the Critical Maritime Routes Programme:
The focus of the Critical Maritime Routes programme is on the security and safety of essential maritime routes. Its objective is to increase maritime security and safety; thereby helping to secure shipping and trading lines of communication. In the long term, the aim is to improve maritime governance. The programme started in 2009 and is trans-regional, with activities concentrated in South East Asia, the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea. Since the start some 16 million euros have been allocated to these activities.