FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MSS Conference "African Maritime Interests: Security and Development" Plenary Session 1 Notes

My apologies for the passive tone in my notes on the plenary sessions.  I sought to remove the authorship/ownership of the speeches and papers read while still sharing my notes on the actual material and this involved an undue amount of passive tone.

  I thought it most important for the 'actual material' to be recorded in order to provoke discussion and debate and ultimately solutions for 'economic prosperity.' 

African Maritime Interests: Security and Development
             The session opened with some interesting comments on the connection between piracy and development.  In Somalia’s case piracy is aiding their development (just not in the way in way we want, nor in a sustainable fashion).  The fact was lamented that for far too long, piracy has been the sole concern regarding Africa’s maritime sector. 
            How well Africa is poised for economic growth was touted, citing Africa's quick rebound from the recent global financial crisis.  Another positive aspect that was highlighted was the fact that a number of countries have applied to EEZ extension licenses (Mauritius, Seychelles, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Mozambique and Nigeria).  However, the necessity of stronger security and legal systems in order for Africa to realize success wasn't emphasized enough in my opinion. 
            An AU security council meeting took place back in April 2010 in which maritime domain issues were briefed.  The question was also posed: “If Africa has outsourced its economic and maritime security to date, then who is getting the money and supposedly doing this job?” 

            Noting the chasm between potential and realization, the statistics were offered that 1.2% of all shipping (by number) comes through African ports and .9% by gross tonnage.  Furthermore, Africa handles 6% of all shipping traffic and 3% of all container traffic.  A call was made for a holistic, whole of government approach (with a representation of international stakeholders) in connecting the golden thread from Africa’s oceans to its own livelihood. 
            General Jones’ stated belief that in Africa it is essential that public-private partnerships be emphasized was emphasized.  In the vein of think-tank-speak the 3 T’s and P’s (terrorism, trafficking, theft and piracy, poaching and pollution) were noted.  In particular, the keys for success noted were: the continued flow of oil, cargo and people in a maritime domain that isn’t conducive to terrorism or drug lords, thereby creating the necessary economic stability to hedge state failure, extremism and natural disasters.  However without the political will, none of this is possible.   A call for preemptive and proactive NGO and private sector engagement to create more effective partnerships was called for; and with it a question as to whether the U.S. government would be more effective if it consolidated its effort and dealt with only 1 or 2 countries in Africa that demonstrated political will and a cooperative nature (instead of the current less focused approach). 
            There followed a brief debate on the efficacy of a 1 or 2 nation approach when dealing with such a breadth of transnational issues.  Then in ensuing discussion, the need for a ‘supra-national instrument’ to engage multiple countries in building the infrastructure (roads and railways) was stated as necessary for Africa’s success. 

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