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How to end piracy in Gulf of Guinea—diving inspectors

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Abiola Seun

As efforts to solve the problem of maritime insecurity within the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) intensify, Nigeria’s Chief Inspector of Diving, Mr. Julius Ugwala has said that the establishment of a common communication network among West African states would improve the security of its territorial waters.

Ugwala made the assertion Wednesday at the West African Maritime and Shipping Conference, which held virtually.

While restating the need for nations to maintain sovereignty, Ugwala maintained that a unified central intelligence system which would leverage on modern technologies to share and coordinate information relating to piracy and other maritime crimes plaguing the states of West Africa would nip insecurity in the bud.

“To curb unrest in our territorial waters or reduce it to the barest minimum, all maritime agencies in coastal states need to come out with a proper escort corridor, naval patrol at sea, coast guards, modern communication systems, and an office that would coordinate a common communication system to monitor the movements on the West African waters.

“This would improve relationship with key partners in the West African region, make for safety along the West African waterways, improve local skills and create employment.”

Speaking on the impact of technology at  post Covid-19, Ugwala said that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) value chain has brought opportunities that would outlast the present time to the maritime industry.

The setbacks of the pandemic, according to him, were initial but with the innovations in technology through the period, shipping is evolving to accommodate virtual processes leading to efficiency.

“We do not want to go backwards because we are faced with Covid-19. Rather, we want to see how we can take advantage, using technology to build our businesses where we can do business without even seeing each other.

“Electronic documentation is another effective way of doing business. We do not have to wait for someone to come from China before documents are signed. Modern ways of inserting signature digitally are available and our vessels can move from one place to another.

“We know that these modern ways of doing business will help us cope with the challenges we are facing today in the shipping sector”, the Chief Inspector of Diving said.

Ugwala, who also bemoaned the lack of confidence in African manpower, said that sadly, Africans feel inferior to expatriates,  neglecting Africans to employ foreigners into roles that Africans are capable of occupying.

“This means that we do not have confidence in our own indigenous people. We need to start encouraging our people in the labour market. We need to go into technology. We need to go into cost studies. We need to keep on learning, training and retraining, if we want to sustain the market”, he said.

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