As part of a phased approach focussing on working at the national level, the table top exercises have given IMO a valuable opportunity to assist Member States in West and Central Africa to identify gaps and inconsistencies in their prevailing maritime strategies.
· Promote a multi-agency, whole of government approach to maritime security and maritime law enforcement issues
· Highlight the need for an integrated approach to maritime law enforcement, including the suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships
· Stimulate discussions and demonstrate the need for co-operation amongst government departments as well as other agencies and stakeholders
· Identify how IMO or other development partners can best support a Member State’s efforts to enhance its coast guard function capabilities for improved maritime security, safety and environmental responses
Who is the exercise aimed at?
Senior level personnel with decision-making authority from relevant Government departments, including, but not limited to, the national Maritime Administration, Port Authorities, Search and Rescue, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Office of the Attorney General, Defence, Intelligence, Police, Navy, Customs and Border Agencies, Immigration, Aviation, Fisheries, Environment.
The table top exercises present a range of evolving scenarios to determine respective roles, responsibilities, processes and procedures, and how these may develop, both with respect to routine business, and during an incident. The scenarios vary in complexity and the aim is to enable appropriate senior officials, acting as a national committee, to develop its collective decision-making abilities, from basic challenges to complex multi-agency involvement. At the end of each of the two day exercises there has been global agreement that better communication, coordination and collaboration amongst Government Departments and Agencies across the board are necessary for the countries to able to respond robustly in times of crisis.
· Develop a national maritime strategy
· Develop a national maritime security strategy
· Revive or create a national maritime security and facilitation committee
· Develop national maritime security plans and procedures
Summary of the table top exercises
IMO has conducted table top exercises in the following countries:
· The Gambia
· Sierra Leone
Table Top Exercises in Anglophone States
Funding from the Government of Norway has enabled IMO to expand the project to include:
· Congo (the Republic of)
· Cote d'Ivoire
· Democratic Republic of Congo
· Equatorial Guinea
· Gabon - Libreville is scheduled to host a table top exercise in October 2013
Many of the Government Departments listed above were represented at the table top exercises in these host countries. Following the highly successful pilot table top in Accra in July 2012, Ghana has revived its National Maritime Security Committee and Liberia also recently established a National Maritime Security Committee.
Table Top Exercises in Equatorial Guinea and Francophone States
Funding permitting, IMO would like to organise table top exercises in other Member States in the region:
· Cape Verde
· Guinea Bissau
· Sao Tomé and Principe
West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund
At the 92nd session of the Maritime Safety Committee in June 2013, the Committee expressed its support for the on-going efforts of the IMO Secretariat to build capacity in the region. The Committee urged Member States to contribute to the newly launched West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund. To date, the United Kingdom Government has contributed to the Trust Fund.
Cooperation with UN Agencies and development partners
IMO is collaborating closely with UN Agencies and relevant partner organizations in the region. On their visit to Senegal in June 2013, IMO representatives met with senior officials from the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) at the UNOWA offices in Dakar. IMO emphasised the importance of inter-agency cooperation within the UN family and urged UNOWA to exert its political leverage in promoting IMO’s maritime strategy to sovereign Governments in West Africa. IMO is also intending to meet with the UN Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) during its forthcoming visit to Libreville.
To reinforce the key messages of the table top exercises at port level, IMO and the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA), organized a joint regional seminar on maritime and port security which was held in Benin in July 2013. Experts from UNOCA, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and UNODC (the UN Office on Drugs and Crime) as well as national experts from France, the In United States Coast Guard. Interpol and the EU’s CRIMGO project also spoke at the seminar. (For more information click here).