African States Band Together to Protect Gulf of Guinea
Nineteen African countries have launched a network to tackle piracy, high-seas robbery, kidnappings and human trafficking in the strategically important Gulf of Guinea.
The Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network (GOGIN) officially began operations after a ceremony in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé, in June 2017.
“Coastal nations, from Angola to Senegal, have begun working together to combat criminality at sea,” said an official statement from the group.
The $9.8 million, four-year initiative funded by the European Union is designed to clamp down on maritime crime in a region where trafficking in human beings and drugs is common. Illegal fishing and oil theft also are major problems in the zone, which stretches across 6,000 kilometers.
Retired French Vice Adm. Jean-Pierre Labonne is heading the GOGIN task force. “Our long-term aim is to support peace, stability, and economic and human development throughout West and Central Africa,” Labonne said. He added that GOGIN would provide participating states technical and logistical help to fight crime and to better exchange information.
The African states also will benefit from academic training modules and exercises at sea with the goal of eventually overseeing such activities. GOGIN emerged from the Yaoundé Process, a code of conduct adopted in 2013 after a regional summit on how to tackle illegal maritime activities in West and Central Africa.
The GOGIN initiative adds to existing operations, including an interregional coordination center in Yaoundé to monitor the Gulf of Guinea.