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Has Deep Blue project helped in suppression of pirates in Gulf of Guinea?

Pirates attack in Gulf of Guinea

—-an update on piracy incidents in Gulf of Guinea

A U.N. resolution last week condemned piracy in the Gulf of Guinea — the most dangerous piracy hot spot in the world.

 In 2020, over 40 percent of piracy incidents occurred in West African waters.
 And 95 percent of all kidnapped crew members were taken from ships transiting the Gulf of Guinea.
Can maritime security efforts help reverse these trends? While global maritime piracy generally decreased from 2015 to 2020, piracy incidents increased substantially in the Gulf of Guinea.

 Our research finds that piracy incidents in West African waters also tended to be more violent than elsewhere, as fighting on land, especially in and around the Niger Delta, appeared to spill out onto the water, as shown in the figure below.

A January 2021 incident involving the Liberian-flagged ship MV Mozart near São Tomé and Príncipe left one seaman dead.

 Pirates kidnapped 15 other sailors in that attack and ransomed them for an undisclosed amount.

The incident occurred approximately 180 kilometers off São Tomé Island and 375 kilometers from Nigeria, making it one of the farthest offshore attacks to date in the Gulf of Guinea.

Yet the MV Mozart attack was followed by a dramatic decline in piracy off Nigeria, with incidents in 2021 dropping nearly 50 percent from 2020 levels.

In fact, piracy incidents now appear to be at a six-year low.
 The 57 sailors kidnapped from vessels in the Gulf of Guinea in 2021 were significantly lower than the 130 crew members seized in 2020.
This drop is welcome news for governments in West Africa that feared unrelenting high costs from persistent maritime insecurity.
In 2021, there were six piracy incidents per month, a 33 percent decrease from the 2019 and 2020 monthly averages.

There have been five incidents per month in the first quarter of 2022. What, if anything, has changed?

Improving maritime security

The Gulf of Guinea contains valuable oil and gas reserves, as well as rich fishing grounds, that are exploited by organized criminal groups and violent armed groups.
 London insurers continue to find the waters between Togo and Gabon at a heightened risk for war, piracy, terrorism and related perils — especially crew abductions.

 But international aid, regional cooperation and local investments in building maritime security capacity may be finally paying off.

The United States and Europe contribute to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Funding for port security enhancements, information sharing, law enforcement training and capacity building are all intended to help ensure peace and promote economic prosperity.

E.U. countries and the United States have increasingly deployed naval vessels to the region to combat organized criminal groups targeting commercial transport ships.

 The Danish navy sent a frigate to the area in November 2021.
 France, Spain and Portugal regularly patrol West African waters.

The United States hosts multinational naval exercises in the Gulf of Guinea that is meant to improve counter-piracy operations and impede illegal fishing.

Regionally, West African governments have collaborated on efforts to secure the gulf against transnational organized crime.

In 2013, 25 governments in the region met in Cameroon to sign the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
This agreement produced a new maritime security architecture, built around information and intelligence sharing as well as coordinated naval operations.

The compact’s goal is to identify and apprehend criminal groups, protect seafarers and deter would-be pirates.

Fights over marine boundaries are creating safe zones for pirates

Five West African countries have established multinational maritime coordination centers, with additional operational bureaus set up in each of the 19 countries bordering the gulf.

If maritime boundaries once protected illegal fishers and pirates from capture, improved information sharing and subsequent coordinated actions by West African navies now render cross-border escapes more dubious.

Will Deep Blue help?

The Nigerian government has separately pursued a strategy designed to secure Nigeria’s own waterways — but the effort may also help to safeguard the wider maritime environment.

The Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure project, popularly known as Deep Blue, commits substantial resources to combat piracy, oil theft, smuggling and illegal fishing.

Deep Blue funding has supplied coastal patrol vehicles, interceptor boats and reconnaissance aircraft that all contribute to a vessel-protection mission.

In July 2021, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also commissioned a surveillance system to provide a comprehensive picture of Nigeria’s maritime environment to inhibit criminal activity.

Additional troops deployed on land in Nigeria may help pursue criminal groups and their assets.

Will Deep Blue work? Bashir Jamoh, Director General of Nigeria’s Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA)credited the deployment of Deep Blue assets for the decline in Gulf of Guinea piracy in 2021.

He also acknowledged assistance from regional governments, the shipping industry and foreign navies.

Nigeria’s 2019 piracy-suppression law, despite its limitations, further ensures that captured pirates and other criminals will be prosecuted.

 In August 2020, a Nigerian court sentenced the first three pirates under this law for the hijacking of an Equatorial Guinean cargo ship.

Still, recent counter-piracy operations by European warships don’t appear to have involved the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency — which is somewhat troubling if Nigeria’s new assets and closer communication are key to maritime security in the region.

Ship attacks and crew abductions may be down in West African waters, but the decline can only partly be attributed to Deep Blue.

 European and U.S. naval deployments and improved regional collaboration probably matter more when it comes to curbing maritime crime.

Of course, better policing at sea doesn’t address socio-economic challenges on land that help drive piracy.

Tackling corruption, poverty and environmental degradation throughout West Africa, but particularly in the Niger Delta, remains essential for reducing the demand for maritime piracy and other types of sea crimes.

But addressing these broader challenges, experts point out, will also require assistance from the international community.

Analysis by Brandon Prins, Aaron Gold, Anup Phayal, Simon Rotzer, Curie Maharani, Sayed Riyadi and Kayla Marie Reno 
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Exclusive! Hope rises on take-off of proposed $3bn Badagry Deep Seaport as NPA, APMT resume discussion


The eyewitness reporter
Barring any last-minute hitches, the proposed Badagry deep seaport project may soon be on the stream as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has resumed discussions with the lead promoter of the multi-billion project, APM Terminals’ Global investment limited.
The investors/ promoters led a team to the NPA headquarters last Wednesday where they met with Mohammed Bello-Koko, the NPA Managing Director, and his management team.
The discussion centered on the take-off of the Badagry project which was conceived in 2016 to take the pressure off the overstretched Lagos ports.
The investment team was led by Martjin Van Dongen, the Global Head, Business Development of APM Terminals Global investment limited.
An elated Bello- Koko revealed that the two teams discussed how to optimize the potentials of the Badagry Deep Seaport.
“Discussions focused on optimizing the potentials of the upcoming Badagry Deep Seaports and other new ports as NPA Management intensifies action toward the vision to make Nigeria the maritime logistics hub for sustainable port services in Africa”
It could be recalled that the Federal government in 2016 conceived the idea of developing deep seaports in the country to position Nigeria as the hub of maritime activities in the West African sub-region.
The proposed deep sea ports project include Lekki deep sea port, which has already taken off, the Ondo deep sea port, Ibom Deep seaport and Badagry deep seaport.
While preparations for the takeoff of both the Ondo and Ibom sea ports projects are in top gear, that of the Badagry project was initially bogged down by technicalities and disagreement between the NPA and the promoters of the project.
The Badagry deep seaport project is an initiative of a consortium led by APM Terminals, Orlean Invest, Oando, Terminal Investment Ltd and Macquarie.
However, in November 2012, APM Terminals and its consortium partners announced plans to develop the Badagry deep seaport.
In 2020, the NPA disclosed that the promoters paid $500,000 as a commitment deposit into an escrow account to signify their commitment towards the port project.
However, the NPA kicked against the initial Outline Business Case for the port, which has been reviewed to include the suggestions of the Ports Authority.
The Federal Government however has approved a concession arrangement for the development of the Badagry deep seaport project over a period of 45 years.

The approval was finalised following a presentation by the Federal Ministry of Transportation at the Federal Executive Council (FEC)  during the last administration of President Mohammed Buhari.

According to officials, the port is expected to generate $53.6 billion in revenue over the 45 years concession period.

The proposed site of the project is located 55km west of Apapa and the port of Lagos, along the 55km long Lagos-Badagry Expressway, which is being upgraded from a four-lane to a ten-lane expressway.

The port is expected to have an annual throughput capacity of 1.8 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).

The proposal for the project was announced in 2012. Feasibility studies have been completed and construction works are yet to start.

The project will be implemented in four phases, with the overall project cost estimated to range between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Also, it is expected that the new port will primarily ease pressure on the existing ports of Lagos, Apapa and Tin-Can Ports, which handle approximately 85 percent of the country’s non-oil throughput.

It will further alleviate the burden on the country’s existing ports, which are on the verge of exceeding their cargo handling capacities, and address the country’s annual container traffic, which is expected to grow to 10 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units by 2030.

When fully built, the deep-water full-service port will be one of the largest in Africa with 7km of quay and 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of dedicated yard. It will include state-of-the-art facilities for container, bulk, liquid bulk, Ro/Ro and general cargo as well as oil and gas operations support and a barge terminal.

Plans for the adjoining Badagry Free Trade Zone will include a power plant, oil refinery, industrial park and warehousing and Inland Container Deport functions.

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Jamoh, Bello- Koko, serial award winners, bag National Productivity merit awards

Bello-Koko, Jamoh, NPOM award winners
 The eyewitness reporter

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, is gradually turning into a serial award winner as he has landed yet another plaque of honour from the federal government.

Not left in the harvest of awards which was a reflection of their value-addition in their various endeavours is Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) who is also a recipient of the National Productivity Diadem and a fellow serial awards winner.
Added to the already crowded roll call of honours of Jamoh is the National Productivity Merit Award conferred on him by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to recognize the invaluable contributions of the NIMASA DG to the development of the maritime industry.
To underscore his sterling leadership qualities as the DG of NIMASA and his roles in the current revolutionary trend in the maritime industry, the federal government nominated Dr Jamoh as a recipient of the 2021 National Productivity Order of Merit, NPOM, Award.
In a letter of the award signed by Dr Nasir Olaitan Raji-Mustapha, the Director General/CEO of the National Productivity Centre, Abuja, there are five categories of the awards.
Jamoh was listed among the 35 recipients under the category of 2021 Individual Awardees while Bello-Koko was listed among the 36 recipients under the category of 2022 Individual Awardees.
To share the limelight with Jamoh in this same category of the award is the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Agency, Hon. Chudi Offodile, while the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani will share from the euphoria with Bello-Koko under the same category of  2022 recipients of the award.
The official conferment ceremony is scheduled for Monday, June 5, 2023.

An excited Jamoh expressed appreciation to the Federal Government, noting that it is a call to greater service to our Fatherland.“I am spurred by this award, particularly as it is coming from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, which underscores the ministry’s role in ensuring reward for hard work and productivity in public service”

“Let me also use this opportunity to dedicate the award to the industry’s stakeholders; external and internal, as they have made our work easier as an administration.

“We will continue to strive to make the maritime sector a viable economic driver, especially with the Blue Economy mantra, which is critical to the sustainability of the maritime sector”, Jamoh said.

Commenting the on the selection of the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the DG said it is a well-deserved honour, as she has remained a core professional and astute administrator in the coordination of activities in the Ministry and the Agencies under the supervision of the Ministry.

“I am not surprised by her selection, as she is an administrator par excellence and has remained resolute and professional in the discharge of her duties.

“Little wonder she is commonly referred to as the “Head Mistress” of the Ministry and the Maritime Sector”. I congratulate her on the well-deserving award.
In the same vein, the NPA MD expressed appreciation to the Federal government for the award and said that the recognition will further spur him on to put in his best in his resolve to turn the rich maritime potentials of the country into actualities.
”I will like to express my profound appreciation to the Federal Government for the honour of being conferred with the National Productivity Order of Merit Award.

”This conferment can only spur me and the entire team at the Nigerian Ports Authority whose commitment to exceptional performance culminated in this recognition, to continue pushing the limit and advancing the frontiers of trade facilitation.

”Imbued with the understanding that excellence is a moving target, I want to seize this moment to assure that we will not rest on our laurels in our resolve to turn our rich maritime potentials into actualities’, an elated Koko declared.

The National Productivity Order of Merit Award was instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria to recognize and honour productive individuals and organizations in Nigeria in the year of the award for achievements made in the preceding years.

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Shippers’ Council bestows on APMT certificate of registration as regulated service provider at ports

Emmanuel Jime
The eyewitness reporter
AP Moller Terminals led by its Vice President, Mr. Martijn Van Dongen, has led a four-man delegation of the company to the management of the Shippers’Council to receive recognition as a certified regulated service provider at the Nigerian Ports.
This recognition was bestowed on the terminal operators during the visit of his top management staff to the economic regulatory agency at Apapa Friday.
Dongen said the essence of the visit was to strengthen collaboration with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the port’s economic regulator.
APMT received its certificate to operate as a regulated service provider during the visit.
Chinenye Deinde, the Legal Adviser and Head of Corporate Affairs of APMT also called on NSC to pursue the National Transport Commission (NTC) Bill, stating that it has the potential to sanitize the maritime sector.
In his response, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of NSC, Rt. Honourable Emmanuel Jime said that the Shippers’ Council is working on the review of its enabling Act which he believes will strengthen the agency in its role as port economic regulator.
According to him, the Federal Government is committed to making Nigeria an investment haven for foreign investors while encouraging local entrepreneurs to be creative in growing the economy.
“The strategic location of this country on the African continent makes it a trigger for investments”, the NSC ES/CEO concluded.
Mr. Dongen was accompanied on the visit by Mr. Klaus Holm Laursen, Head of Joint Ventures, Africa and Europe, Mrs. Chinenye Deinde, Legal Adviser & Head, Corporate Affairs, APMT as well as Mr. Frederick Klinke, MD, APMT Nigeria.
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