Second International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference

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Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu -Chief of Naval Staff, Ghana Navy

The International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC) is the largest maritime security exhibition and conference in West Africa. The second edition of the conference will take place from 6-8 July 2021 at Kempinski Hotel in Accra, Ghana. The conference will generally address maritime security in the gulf of guinea, and precisely, the following points. 

  • As much as 95% of all kidnappings at sea in 2020 occurred in the Gulf of Guinea; 
  • Piracy attacks in the West African coast jumped 34% to 79 in 2020, up from 59 in 2019; 
  • A total of 147 vessels were attacked in 2020, and 149 crew were kidnapped, with 27 kidnapped for ransom; 
  • By 2020, the African port sector had collectively attracted USD 50 billion in public and private investments; 

The conference is in partnership with Ghana Navy and Ghana Air Force. Furthermore, it will have 15 Chiefs of Navies and Air Forces along with 300 senior officials. The Vice President of Ghana H.E Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia will also be in attendance. 

Commenting on IMDEC, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, Chief of Naval Staff, Ghana Navy, said, “It is troubling to know that 95% of all kidnappings at sea in 2020 occurred in the Gulf of Guinea”. He continued, “These statistics call for urgent and concerted efforts to deal with this menace, and that is why I … am inviting my colleague chiefs of Navy chiefs of Navies and coastguards, other law enforcement agencies, experts, industry and all other stakeholders in the maritime domain to meet in Accra from the 6 – 8 July 2021, to develop under the theme maritime security and trade the nexus between a secure maritime environment in a developed blue economy”. “I am hopeful that by the end of this conference, we can collectively find innovative ways to curb the rise of criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea for the benefit of our nations and the people who trade and derive their livelihoods from the sea.”

The Gulf of Guinea

The Gulf of Guinea is a vast and diverse region stretching from Senegal to Angola, covering 6,000 kilometres of coastline. It is a crucial shipping zone transporting oil and gas and goods to and from central and southern Africa. Around 1,500 fishing vessels, tankers, and cargo ships navigate its waters on any given day. Piracy, armed robbery at sea, etc, pose threats to maritime security in the Gulf and to the economic development of the region. 

According to the International Maritime Bureau, the Gulf of Guinea saw 84 attacks on ships, with 135 seafarers kidnapped for ransom in 2020, according to the International Maritime Bureau, nearly 50% increase in kidnapping for ransom between 2018 and 2019, and around 10% increase between 2019 and 2020. The region now accounts for just over 95% of all kidnappings for ransom at sea. The Covid-19 pandemic brought about increased economic hardship resulting in emboldened reliance on illicit yet lucrative activities. Thus, according to Africa Risk Compliance’s 2020 report, a total of 147 vessels suffered attacks in 2020. Additionally, according to the report, 149 members of the crew were kidnapped, with 27 kidnapped for ransom.

The second edition of IMDEC will also welcome greater participation from regional Air Forces. The Ghana Air Force will be an official event partner to highlight the significance of air-maritime cooperation.

Organised by Great Minds Event Management, a global strategic events management organisation that closely works with governments, IMDEC will address essential defence and maritime security issues, showcase new technology for the defence sector.  Participating companies will demonstrate their best products and services that could equip the naval and air forces and enhance their defence capabilities at sea. A snapshot of some of the companies confirmed to participate include Paramount, Israel Shipyards Ltd, Israel Aerospace Industries, MBDA and Airbus. It will all be showcasing its latest technologies and services throughout the two-day exhibition.

Commenting on their participation in this edition, AVM Frank Hanson, Chief of The Air Staff, Ghana, said, “For several years the maritime space remains one of the most vital components of our national security, and with a coastline of 550 kilometres and an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles”. He also added that “Ghana’s maritime space accounts for more than 80% of Ghana’s GDP, and that impacts positively on our neighbours in the region. Furthermore, the proximity of the Gulf of Guinea to Europe and North America for the transportation of low oil further raises its importance in the global supply of energy”.

The three-day IMDEC conference and exhibition will also feature exclusive tours of Ghana’s Air and Naval bases. They will consist of in-depth walkthroughs of the naval dockyard and airbase and private vessel tours. The aim is consequently to display the advanced capabilities of Ghana’s Naval and Air Force fleet.

Chiefs of Naval Staff and VIPs in attendance

The latest guests and speakers at IMDEC include Rear Admiral Nguessan Kouame, Chief of Naval Staff, Cote d’Ivoire Navy, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff, Nigeria Navy, Rear Admiral Oumar Wade, Chief of Naval Staff, Senegalese Navy, Rear Admiral Jean Mendoua, Chief of Naval Staff, Cameroon Navy. Rear Admiral Carlos Alfredo Mandungal Chief of Naval Staff, Guinea Bissau Navy, Rear Admiral Jeffrey S. Spivey, Vice Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, Royal Navy, Rear Admiral Ben Reynolds, Director of Maritime Headquarters U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa / U.S. 6th Fleet, Captain Pedro Santana, Commander of the Coast Guard, Cape Verde, Captain Philip Juana, Commander, Sierra Leone Navy and Dr Dieng Abdourahmane (Rtd.Col.), Head Regional Security Division, ECOWAS Commission.