, LOME, Togo, Oct 16 – President Uhuru Kenyatta joined other African leaders in pushing for the signing of a charter that will entrench the continent’s maritime security and safety.
The Charter on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa – signed during the African Union Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Lome, Togo – provides a framework for addressing challenges facing the continent’s maritime domain. The challenges range from piracy, terrorism to human and drug trafficking. The Charter also deals with the unregulated and illegal exploitation of marine resources, and dumping of toxic waste.
President Kenyatta said the signing of the charter could be cited as Africa’s endeavor to contribute to international peace and security, particularly in the maritime domain.
“The Charter will also build on the 2050 Integrated Maritime Strategy for Africa, paving the way for further initiatives and actions,” the President said.
President Kenyatta spoke today when he addressed the Maritime Summit in Lome, Togo.
He called for consistent support for robust African security strategies that will secure the continent’s maritime sector, noting that it has the potential to create employment and wealth to alleviate poverty, hasten economic growth and promote development.
“The scope and severity of the threats facing our maritime domain require that we not only secure the collaboration of African states, but that we also enlist the support of the entire community of nations,” the President said.
President Kenyatta underscored the need for Africa to enter into international partnerships to boost its efforts in protecting and preserving the continent’s maritime resources. He observed that many of the challenges in the maritime arena are global in nature.
“We have seen at first hand the positive results that international partnership can bring. It is through such multinational, global partnership that we, for example arrested piracy off the Somali Coast,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “Together we established a framework to deal with piracy – a framework that saw partner states deploy forces both on land and offshore to execute a calculated, strategic operation.”
As a coastal country, the President said Kenya is committed to exploiting its maritime resources in the most economically efficient and environmentally sustainable manner in accordance with international laws and practice.
With a combined Economic Zone of 13 million square kilometers and 17 per cent of the world’s freshwater resources, President Kenyatta said Africa has an excellent opportunity to exploit its maritime resources to power an inclusive, sustainable and “green” industrialization process.
He expressed confidence that the renewed continent’s push towards maritime security, safety and development herald a new era of stability, security and success.
Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé said Africa’s focus on addressing the challenges facing its maritime sector would help in harnessing the resources to benefit the continent.
President Gnassingbé urged African leaders should continue pulling in the same direction in the search for solutions to the continents problems.
“Our actions must translate into positive results that will consolidate our efforts to protect our maritime resources and safeguard the continent’s future,” President Gnassingbé said.
Chad’s President Idriss Déby, who is also the Chairman of the African Union, said the charter is a legal instrument that will boost trade and promote the continent’s exploitation of its maritime resources.
Other speakers included African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Carlos Lopes, the UN Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.