L-R: Naval Attaché, French Embassy, Capt. William Tosten; Rear Admiral Hamza Kaoje, representing the Chief of Naval Staff, Nigerian Navy; Representative of the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Patience Olamide Ogunnubi; Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Ambassador (Mrs.) Florentina Adenike Ukonga; Chairperson, Zoe Maritime Resources Limited, Mrs. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore and the Danish Defence Attaché to Nigeria/Maritime Military Advisor to West Africa, Captain (Navy) Soren Skovbjerg Nielsen, at the Lagos International Maritime Week organized by Zoe Maritime Resources Limited in Oriental Hotel, Lekki, Lagos… on Tuesday.
As part of efforts to meet modern shipping trends and maintain eco-friendly operations, shipping experts have proposed some innovative approaches and technologies for Africa.
These ideas and strategies were explored at the just concluded 2022 Lagos International Maritime Week (LIMW) organized by Zoe Maritime Resources Limited, as novel maritime security options and green shipping alternatives were discussed.
Speaking at the event on Tuesday, the Chief of Naval Staff, Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Awaal Gambo observed that some vessels turn off their Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) to evade tracking even as some pirates utilize watercrafts without AIS mechanisms.
The Naval Chief, who was represented by Rear Admiral Hamza Kaoje, noted that Nigerian Navy has been utilizing new technologies especially for round-the-clock surveillance of the country’s maritime space using the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) and Falcon Eye facilities, which are anchored on ICT.
“Overtime so many cases of piracy were reported in Nigeria to the extent that the nation was seen as a dreaded area for shipping. With the activities of Nigerian Navy and collaborations with key stakeholders, Nigeria has been delisted from the pirates prone areas.
However, the Gulf of Guinea is a very vast area and collaboration among navies is crucial. One country can’t achieve this alone. We need to come together to join resources, share information and partner to protect the resources in the GoG,” he said.
Noting that AIS transponders are designed to be capable of providing position, identification and other information about a ship to other ships and to coastal authorities automatically, he stressed that those who switch off their AIS to be evasive will be penalized legally.
However, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Barr. Temisan Omatseye proposed the utilization of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) rather than AIS for tracking ships.
“We are talking about technology here and the Admiral mentioned that one of the challenges being faced is AIS being switched off. I do recall that in 2009, when I was Director General of NIMASA, Nigeria signed the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system. I believe Nigeria is a party to this and has kept paying her subscriptions.”
“Unlike AIS that could be turned off at will by the ship captain, the GMDSS is hardly turned off. So, the Nigerian Navy could used the LRIT system which is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) instrument that NIMASA is a signatory to. Ships would require approvals from the Flag State administration to switch off their GMDSS and they don’t like to do that. So, we can explore ways to track vessels using GMDSS rather than depending on AIS which is switched off frequently,” Omatseye said.
In her goodwill remarks, the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mrs. Emmanuelle Blatmann, who was represented by the Consul General of France in Lagos, Mrs. Laurence Monmayrant, stressed that the introduction of new shipping patterns, both innovative and economically viable, can only be achieved if maritime routes are secure.
“The GoG routes cover huge areas where seafarers and goods must be safe for trade to happen. To this end, the GoG can count on the Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP) scheme. It ensures the presence of navies in the area on behalf of the European Union. The French Navy, which has been present in West African waters for over 30 years through the “Corymbe” mission, is an important stakeholder of the CMP initiative,” she stated..
Monmayrant asserted that the success of the CMP owes a lot to its combination with the Yaoundé architecture, which includes the action of increasingly modern and involved regional navies with Nigeria at the forefront of these countries that have achieved more than 80 percent reduction in piracy attacks on commercial vessels.
On his part, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu expressed delight at the innovations being explored in Nigeria via electric, hydrogen and solar-powered boats, even as he suggested replacing fossil fuel plants and power generators with solar and electricity at river ports and the utilization of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for inland waterways crafts.