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General News of Friday, 19 March 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Ghana Navy host ‘OBANGAME EXPRESS 2021’

The Ghana Navy in collaboration with US Naval Forces is hosting this year’s Obangame Express (OE21) exercise to strengthen tides to combat crimes on the sea.

Obangame Express (OE21), the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa, has kick-started today with 32 participating nations at an opening ceremony held in Accra, Ghana.

The exercise is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of participating nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Chief of Defense Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, Vice Admiral Seth Amoama said the Exercise Obangame Express is very crucial because it provides an opportunity for the participating countries to share knowledge and ideas on how best to combat illegal activities on the sea.

“Since the beginning of this year, the Gulf of Guinea has recorded 18 maritime incidents, 14 of which have occurred offshore, with 12 generally situated south of the Niger Delta Region. The maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea need to be considered as a whole because they are interrelated, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, drug trafficking, smuggling of merchandise and weapons, human trafficking and the menace of piracy and armed robbery at sea adversely affect all the countries in the Gulf of Guinea and so the need for an integrated approach to fight these crimes,” he said.

Vice Admiral Seth Amoama also stated that Obangame is a major training event for navies and stakeholders across the world especially the Gulf of Guinea and urged participating countries to take advantage of the opportunity to build good relationships.

“It is not only individual countries that are participating in the exercise but also sub-regional bodies such as the Economic Community of Central African States(ECCAS), THE Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and International institutions including, International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations Office for Drug Control (UNODC) and the INTERPOL among others. Obangame Express which is to engender Cooperation among navies and stakeholders in the Gulf of Guinea cannot be overemphasized, Historically, whenever a group of nations have faced a common threat, the tendency has been that they unified their efforts to combat that threat. It is that same concept that saw nations fighting in alliances during the World Wars,” he added.

The 32 nations scheduled to participate in OE21 include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, and the United States. Also participating will be the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

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