Koenders: ‘Security at sea essential in West Africa’
Foreign minister Bert Koenders discussed maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea with his Togolese counterpart Robert Dussey on Monday. The two ministers agree that security at sea cannot be taken for granted in this region. ‘The Gulf of Guinea is plagued by piracy and drug smuggling. This is a threat to security on this key trade route,’ Mr Koenders said.
‘Around 30,000 commercial vessels pass through this area each year, including Dutch ships,’ said the minister. ‘They need to be able to reach their destination in complete safety.’ According to Mr Koenders, security in the Gulf of Guinea is not just important for the Netherlands but also for the countries on the Gulf, including Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria. ‘The security situation is having a serious impact on these countries too, partly because it’s hampering overseas trade with other countries.’
During his meeting the minister underlined the importance of finding a structural solution to the problem and said he was pleased that Togo is taking the lead in the matter. In November Togo is hosting an African Union conference on maritime security and development to explore the possibilities for a joint strategy. ‘I’m pleased that Togo and its African Union partners are looking for a solution to this complex problem,’ said Mr Koenders.
The Netherlands actively contributes to improving security at sea in West Africa. This includes military maritime training and supporting a monitoring centre that provides commercial vessels with the latest information on risks in the Gulf. ‘This helps ensure a more effective response to maritime crime,’ said Mr Koenders.