In the last decade, the strategic importance of the oceans has been quite fundamentally re-evaluated. Discussions on the blue economy have shown the substantial promises of ocean resources for economic development and growth, the importance of which was also emphasized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. But the oceans are also the source of significant insecurities. The thriving maritime security discourse has forcefully shown this. Scholars have observed the detrimental effects of problems such as piracy in East and West Africa, trafficking of people in the Mediterranean, fishery crimes or the trafficking of narcotics and other illicit goods. The dangers of the sea and the promises for economic prospect have gained particular attention on the African continent.
The African Union adopted in 2014 the African Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 to provide joint direction and the basis for a cooperative approach to managing blue growth and maritime security on the continent. At a major African Union summit taking place this week in Lomé, Africa’s leaders will adopt a legally binding charter. In the charter, they commit themselves to make more efforts in tackling maritime crime, to share information and build the infrastructure for harvesting ocean resources sustainably. Continue reading