With Angola working to diversify our economy beyond the overwhelming focus on oil, the maritime industry is certainly a great place to start. With 90 percent of world trade reaching us though ships, Angola is setting itself to become the maritime hub for Central and Southern Africa. A project both ambitious and within grasp. For commodity based markets such as Angola, maritime trade is key to our economic growth.

International maritime Security and Energy Conference

In order to secure our economic interest, Angola needs to focus on securing its territorial waters. Energy security and trade depend to a large extent on sea-based transport, and the Gulf of Guinea according to a 2012  report, is currently the source of around 5.4 million barrels of oil per day (and increasing). The region has slowly become the playing ground for oil pilferers and offshore petty crimes. These statistics have increased as security tightens around the horn of Africa and fewer kidnappings occur in the east. Angola with its extensive coastline and the recent rise to becoming Africa’s largest producer of oil, the country is well positioned to playing a key role in maritime security within the region. The International Conference in Maritime and energy Security could not have come at a better time.

Angola hosted this Maritime security conference on October 7-9, 2015. The American Ambassador, Helen La Lime noted the unique nature of the conference in that it brought both public and private integration to share international best practices to improving regional security coordination and partnerships. The maritime security has always been at the top of Ambassador La Lime’s diplomatic agenda and as a result the United States partnered with Angola thought AFRICOM on this important initiative.

Highlights of the MARSEC conference

US Army Gen. David Rodriguez spoke on maritime being one of the few areas ofgreater strategic relevance today. He encouraged a focus on regional cooperation, national maritime strategies and industry participation as the three keys to maritime security and global integration.

The minister of foreign affairs, Goerges Chikoti pushed for greater criminalization of crimes at sea such as acts of piracy, human trafficking, illegal immigration, illegal fishing and maritime security. He advised states to adopt and enforce policies that strengthen national and regional initiatives and promote economic development.

The minister of Fisheries, Vitória de Barros Neto, hopes that the Conference adopts measures to reduce unregulated and illegal fishing and secure our exclusive economic zones across the region. While the vice President, Manuel Vicente, focused on the maritime strategy of African Union for 2050 efforts aiming for peace, maritime security and stability in the region Gulf of Guinea a significant contribution to the blue economy – the new sexy term for the development of the continent.

As a maritime professional I am eager to see progress in this area for Angola. I am proud of the Women in maritime Angola group, which has long before this conference focused on inter-regional collaboration organizing the first international conference for Women in Maritime Africa early this year. Representatives of national and sub-regional Maritime Women Associations and women representatives of other sea related activities of the African continent were in attendance.

The underlying mission of this International Conference on maritime Energy and Security was to strengthen maritime trade, coastal and port security and identify capacity building initiatives that foster regional collaboration. I envision Angola becoming a trade and investment hub for the region.  It is all in the  strengthening of political systems and public and private sector relations. And this is better achieved though a collaborative effort.