Government has signed a contract worth $200 million for the construction of a Forward Operating Base (FOB) at Edzinlibo in the Western Region for the protection of the country’s oil and gas infrastructure.
The contract would enable the Ghana Navy to receive associated offshore patrol boats for effective maritime patrols, while another contract has been signed with Gulf Frontiers for procurement of six additional patrol boats to beef up Ghana Navy’s fleet.
The move follows Ghana’s historic victory over neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire in 2017 at the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Germany, during a three-year maritime boundary dispute.
The Chamber, on Saturday, September 23, 2017, ruled that Ghana has not violated any maritime boundary of Cote d’Ivoire and the two countries consequently signed an agreement towards the implementation of the Tribunal’s ruling.
The Forward Operating Base is any secured forward operational level military position commonly used for an extended period of time and improves the Military’s reaction time during operations.
Mr Dominic Nitiwul, the Minister of Defence, announced this when he addressed delegates at the opening of the maiden International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference in Accra on Wednesday.
The two-day conference, which is also marking the 60th Anniversary of the Ghana Navy, was attended by over 50 chief naval staffs in Africa and across the world, coastal guards, service chiefs, researchers, regulators and players in the maritime industry.
They will discuss maritime challenges, exchange ideas, share information and explore technological solutions to help in maintaining maritime security and safeguard the maritime domain for sustainable exploitation of the Blue Economy for national development.
The delegates will share various maritime strategies to ensure safe and secured maritime environment in the Gulf of Guinea and across the world.
It is being held under the theme: “Empowering Regional Collaboration to Enhance Maritime Security and Regional Development in the Gulf of Guinea”, while the Ghana Navy’s 60th anniversary is being marked on the theme: “Celebrating 60 years of Naval Excellence, Securing the Maritime Domain for National Development”.
There were more than 80 defence solution providers across the world exhibiting various technological solutions to maritime security threats.
Mr Nitiwul reiterated the need for all maritime stakeholders to foster collaboration to deal decisively with maritime safety and security threats.
He said security threats to the maritime domain transcended across borders and has the propensity to affect international trade and coastal nations, considering the fact that, maritime trade constituted about 80 per cent of the global trade.
Mr Nitiwul said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFA) would not be successful, unless there is a secured maritime domain, adding that, 39 out of the 55 African Union countries are coastal states.
The Defence Minister observed that the maritime sector is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy because the ports and harbours served as the gateway for more than 80 per cent of the international trade and vital for the country’s revenue mobilization.
Mr Nitiwul called for strengthening of the African Integrated Maritime Strategy and Inter-Agency Cooperation, as well as joint and combined cooperation among maritime security agencies and stakeholders.
He was of the conviction that technological solution was critical in dealing with maritime threats, which would aid in information sharing and intelligence, and thus, expressed excitement over the presence of the technological solution providers at the conference.
Mr Nitiwul said the offshore oil and gas resources and its associated industries contributed immensely to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and would witness a significant increase following the discovery of more oil and gas wells.
Therefore, protecting the Ghanaian maritime domain is crucial for achieving the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda, as espoused by the Government, he added.
Mr Nitiwul called for swifter action to deal decisively with illegal and unregulated fishing, maritime pollution, sea robbery, illegal bunkering and litany of maritime crimes, to ensure sustainable use of the nation’s maritime assets.
The Minister commended the Ghana Navy for executing its mandate of protecting the country’s territorial waters with excellence over the past 60 years, saying that, efforts are underway to achieve maritime domain awareness through satellite imagery and other maritime solutions while the Ghana Air force is complementing the Navy with aircraft to protect the country’s maritime domain.
He said the collaboration between the Ghana Navy and other security agencies continued to yield positive results and cited the recent crackdown on the activities of fuel smuggling syndicates, as a result of that collaboration.
Mr Nitiwul entreated the Ghana Navy not to rest on its oars, but should work collaboratively with other stakeholders such as the Ghana Marine Police, Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Ghana Petroleum Commission and the National Petroleum Corporation, as well as other stakeholders and international partners, to safeguard the country’s maritime domain and make the Gulf of Guinea a more safer place.