With assistance from the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA)[i]
, IMO developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Establishment of a Sub-regional Integrated Coast Guard Network (the Network) in West and Central Africa which was adopted in Senegal in July 2008. To date, it has been signed by 15 of its 20 coastal member States and provides a framework to promote regional maritime cooperation and a stable maritime environment as well as the peace, good order and prosperity of West and Central Africa.
The goal of the Network is to initiate joint efforts to safeguard human life, enforce laws and improve the security, safety and protection of the environment, otherwise referred to as ‘coastguard functions’. Being responsible for implementing these coastguard functions, national agencies need to co-ordinate their efforts effectively in order to reinforce law enforcement activities such as the suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships, the prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and countering the trafficking of drugs, weapons and people.
It has since become apparent that to achieve this end, a phased approach to capacity building is required to foster co-operation within and amongst States, hence IMO's programme of table top exercises
aimed at maritime authorities at the national level.
In June 2013, the Code of Conduct
concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity in West and Central Africa was adopted formally in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The Code, which complements the security related aspects of the IMO/MOWCA MoU, is a regional framework created by ECCAS, ECOWAS and GGC with the assistance of IMO and was adopted at the highest political level by 25 countries in West and Central Africa.
IMO has been involved in technical assistance projects relating to the maritime domain in the region for many years and established a regional presence in West Africa in 1999. IMO currently has two regional coordinators based in Côte d’Ivoire for west and central Africa (Francophone) and Ghana for west and central Africa (Anglophone).
[i] MOWCA member States: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.