East African Maritime Security Trip

Phillip J. Heyl, Chief, Air and Maritime Branch, U.S. Africa Command  wrote:


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Strategy, Plans and Programs Directorate (J5) recently visited Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Maputo, Mozambique as part of a team which included members from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State in the first step of a collaborative process to coordinate maritime security programs in support of economic development. 

Discussions were held with government officials, non-government organizations, the private sector, and civil society on potential areas of cooperation and the importance of maritime security to economic growth and development in Africa.

While piracy leads the list of transnational maritime threats that affect economic development in the region, other issues such as illegal human and drugs trafficking, and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing have a negative impact too.  There is growing recognition of the full range of issues that are needed to be addressed, and link economic development and maritime security. 

To put it bluntly, sustained economic development and growth require a secure maritime environment.

The threats in the maritime environment are critical challenges to development that maritime nations like Tanzania and Mozambique face.  This visit was designed to collaborate between U.S. Agencies to assist in long-term programs designed to build African capacity to monitor, detect, and deter or punish those who engage in illicit maritime activities.

In many instances, such capabilities, once developed and implemented, are cross-cutting and mutually reinforcing.  For example, monitors that detect illegal fishing can also detect those engaged in human trafficking or contraband smuggling.  The same is true of the legislative, regulatory, and judicial frameworks that provide authority for officials to interdict and then prosecute offenders.  All require good governance and transparency which in turn lead to increased public confidence and support; greater sustainability; and enhanced cooperation among various government agencies and between governments, their counterparts, and the private sector.

The success of countries such as Mozambique and Tanzania in enhancing their maritime security has implications not only for them, but for their land-locked neighbors who rely on them for access to global markets. The world depends on Africa, which is becoming increasingly important in global trade both as a supplier and consumer.   Mozambique’s and Tanzania’s long coastlines on the Indian Ocean are strategic transportation corridors for Africa and the world.  

The security of these strategic maritime corridors is a shared interest between Africa, the U.S. and the rest of the world.  No one country can keep these corridors safe and secure… and regional capacity to maintain security is essential for international trade.  That is why the team went to discuss cooperation to make the maritime environment more secure.  Ultimately, a secure maritime environment benefits economic development and growth which in turn, benefits us all.

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