The 13th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of head of States and Government declared the need “to develop a comprehensive and coherent (Maritime) strategy” in order to achieve Africa’s Security and Safety, as well as aspirations, in particular within the maritime domain.
It charged the Regional Economic Communities to develop, coordinate and harmonize policies and strategies to improve the African Maritime Security and Safety Standards, as well as the African Maritime Economy for more wealth-creation from its oceans and seas.
The requirement from the Southern African Development Communities (SADC) is to develop a comprehensive, coherent and inclusive Maritime Security Strategy (MSS), as the current SADC MSS focuses only on the Somali piracy threat.
The Defence Sub-Committee (DSC) held in Luanda, Angola in May 2018, directed the SADC Secretariat to commence the review process. It further directed the Standing Maritime Committee (SMC), as the custodian of the SADC MSS, to take the lead in this regard.
The Joint Technical Working Group was held at the SA Naval Mess, Pretoria, from 23 to 25 July 2019. The following SADC structures were present:
- Standing Maritime Committee.
- Defence Intelligence Sub-Committee (DISC).
- Defence Legal Working Group (DLWG)
- SADC Secretariat.
Councillor in Charge of Reforms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Navy, R Adm C.M. Yondo delivering the opening address.
The meeting was held in the Dining Room of the SA Navy Mess
Thirty six delegates were present, representing eleven SADC Member States, being:
- The Republic of Angola.
- The Republic of Botswana.
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
- The Republic of Mauritius.
- The Republic of Mozambique.
- The Republic of Namibia.
- The Republic of Seychelles.
- The Republic of South Africa.
- The United Republic of Tanzania.
- The Republic of Zambia.
- The Republic of Zimbabwe.
The meeting was co-chaired by R Adm D.M. Mkhonto (SA Navy) and R Adm C.M. Yondo (DRC Navy). R Adm Yondo stated, during his opening address, that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was created with the aim of strengthening relations of friendship and cooperation, preserving the political independence of the member states and ensuring regional development through capitalization and securing of human economies, resources and potential; this should be done by the route (s) or route (s) of maritime and commercial importance, better geopolitical and strategic.
He also noted that the SADC waters are exposed to numerous sources of maritime insecurity due to the growth of inter-state aggression, violations of maritime spaces, trafficking in human beings, weapons, narcotics, piracy and other aspects of smuggling border areas and that this is why the Southern African Development Community (SADC) understood, like the other Regional Organizations (i.e. ECCAS, ECOWAS, etc.) the need for a strategic initiative to have an approach global cooperation and a naval presence in the African maritime field, not only for International Trade, which plays a crucial role in many African economies, but also for the security of coastal of island countries, many of which have capacity weaknesses of Surveillance and Border Control.
R Adm Mkhonto added the importance that the inland waters have to the economy of the SADC Region and stressed the importance of including it into the new strategy.
The SA Navy presented a proposed way forward with regards to achieving the aim of the Working Group. The Maritime Intelligence representative, Cdr S. Tantsi from the South African Defence Intelligence Division then presented key points and areas of concern that needs to be addressed. Mr Timothy Walker of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) did a presentation on an overview of regional and continental Maritime Strategies and Implementation Processes. He then continued by presenting the proposed strategic objectives of the SADC Integrated Maritime Strategy, as this is seen to be the cornerstone of the revised strategy.
The envisaged outcome of this workshop was achieved i.e. a draft SADC Integrated Maritime Security Strategy (IMSS) with sound strategic objectives that are fully aligned with the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy. The completed SADC IMSS will serve as a strategic policy framework document that would recommend measures to be undertaken by SADC Member States for achievement of regional maritime security.
Representatives of SADC Member States were instructed to present the draft copy of the SADC IMSS to their principles for ratification. Feedback from the respective SADC Member States must be submitted to the SMC Secretariat by 30 August 2019 in order for the SMC Secretariat, supported by the SADC Secretariat, to finalise the document.
The SMC Secretariat and the SADC Secretariat will meet during September 2019 to finalise the draft SADC IMSS. The SADC Secretariat will report to the DSC the accomplishment of the SADC MSS Review at their next meeting.