By Frank Odinukaeze & Chioma Akabuogu
To achieve a sustainable maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and the full optimisation of blue economy in Africa, women in maritime sector have called for collaboration and synergy amongst stakeholders in the sector.
This was the general opinion of all the speakers at the first International Day for Women in Maritime by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) jointly organized by the Women’s International Shipping Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria and Women In Maritime Association (WIMA)Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday.
The event which was designed to celebrate and build capacity saw women attending in their numbers.
Speaking at the event, Barrister Jean Chiazor Anishere (SAN) commended WISTA and WIMA for coming together to collaborate to train and give a visible recognition towards pioneering a free working environment for women in maritime sector.
Speaking on the theme of the event,”Maritime Security Issues and Blue Economy”, she said,
“Earlier this month Nigeria hosted the fifth plenary session of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum, where it shared awareness and deep concerns in Abuja. “At the plenary ,it was concluded that there is a need for continuous collaboration with regional and international stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of security in the Gulf of Guinea.”she said
She said,” I would like to state here that we cannot achieve a barrier- free environment for women in maritime without an enduring and sustainable collaboration amongst all the various organisations of women in maritime.
Delivering a paper titled, “Effects of Maritime Security, Challenges in the Ports, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea”, President of WISTA,Mrs Eunice Ezeoke noted that between 2017 and 2018 the rate of piracy in the region rose very high and peaked in 2018 with 30 incidents . Following this,
“The Gulf of Guinea was labelled the World’s most dangerous Maritime zone,”she said.
She said insecurity within the Gulf of Guinea is hindering trade and constitutes threat to the blue economy.
“Piracy and other Maritime crimes are hindrances and threats to the blue economy project, “she stated. Ezeoke advocated for information and data sharing as well as vigorous sea patrol by multinational naval forces as possible solution to stem piracy in the region.
In his presentation, Captain Armor Bhandari who spoke via zoom expoused the need for security consciousness as the blue economy could be badly threatened by insecurity amongst other factors.
The Permanent Secretary,Federal Ministry of Transport and a Diamond member of WISTA, Mrs Magdalene Ajani, who spoke via zoom also lauded the organisers of the event and encouraged women to continue on their quest to be a force in the maritime industry.
Earlier, the President of WIMA ,Mrs Macfoy Rollens who moderated the event, noted that women have evolved and called for women in the maritime sector to brace up to the challenge of being the best in the industry.
Also speaking at the occasion, President of African Marine Environment and Sustainability Initiative(AFMESI),Dr Mrs. Felicia Mogo noted that the blue economy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of insecurity. She therefore said the campaign for insecurity and blue economy should be taken to the coastal communities.