View this email in your browser

Issue 3, November 2021


In this issue, we bring you a fresh and inclusive perspective on maritime security from a guest editorial, a major milestone for Nigeria’s maritime space and what’s new from SWAIMS and our esteemed implementing partners in the ECOWAS region. Read on!


1. Editorial
2. Nigeria’s National Maritime Strategy – another trailblazing step forward
3. News roundup from SWAIMS and its implementing partners
4. Events




Then and now: Gender dimensions of maritime (in)security 

By Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood*

The global maritime industry is indisputably male-dominated. But in most African countries, the fishing sector has historically been far more equitable. Typically, men focus on fishing and women on processing, trade and distribution. As the direct contact with the end-users, women are at top of the value chain – at the very point where capital accumulates. It is women traders who pre-finance fishing activities, who are the actual owners of boats, who purchase outboard engines, food for the crew or fuel for fishing trips. Though often invisible to the casual observer then as now, women were the power behind fishing enterprises and the settlements along rich fishing grounds. But transformations in recent decades have pushed this once-balanced relationship completely out of kilter.

First, the overexploitation of fish stocks due to industrialisation of the fishing fleet has drastically reduced the catch. A lower catch means fewer fish to process and sell, thus reducing income and increasing poverty. Many women have been squeezed out of the trade and forced into other activities, some of them illicit.

Secondly, the industrialisation of the entire sector. For example, pirogues have been displaced by large ships, and refrigeration for preservation has replaced smoking and drying. The result? Artisanal jobs have migrated to the industrial sector, favouring men over women.

Finally, these undesirable gender-biased transformations are echoed in the financial sector as well. Increasingly, banks and financial institutions are taking over the financing of fishing activities to the detriment of women traders who once played that role.

The convergence of these different negative trends – combined with continued environmental degradation primarily due to pollution by oil companies and the impact of climate change  – has disrupted the livelihoods of communities in the fishing economy. This has in turn led to a spiral of poverty and marginalisation: non-traditional opportunities are few and far apart, and highly competitive. To make ends meet, some men engage in illicit activities – a well-documented fact. A recent UNODC report clearly linked the deprivation in the Niger Delta to militancy, including piracy and armed robbery at sea. But it said little about how women were responding to these same vulnerabilities and livelihood disruptions. Consequently, women have also been excluded from efforts to mitigate the arising security problems. For instance, Nigeria’s Presidential Amnesty Programme reintegrated 30,000 men but only 822 women in the Niger Delta despite evidence that many more women were actively involved in militancy in the region. This outright exclusion leaves too many women exposed and vulnerable to the predations of criminal actors.

The relationship between men and women in the fisheries sector illuminates and underscores their complementary roles in advancing the maritime industry. But unless the gendered and intertwined nature of the impacts of, and responses to, maritime (in)security are comprehensively acknowledged and addressed in an integrated manner, this cycle of injustice where the needs of the women are side-lined will continue to spiral.

To redress this imbalance, there must be better access to finance for actors in the fisheries value chain. And within that, special consideration must be given to systematically enable women to invest in industrial fishing, restoring their historical role in contemporary times and context.

*Dr Ife Okafor-Yarwood is a Lecturer in Sustainable Development specialising in maritime governance and security at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom.

ERRATUM: In our last editorial in SWAIMS News Issue 2, we erroneously used the term Common Maritime Presence and listed Denmark as a member. The correct term is Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP) and the correct membership of the European Union’s CMP is France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. We deeply regret this error and apologise to our readers.


2. Nigeria’s National Maritime Strategy – another trailblazing step forward

In the last issue of SWAIMS News (Issue 2), we brought you news on Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project. Much more has happened since.

In Nigeria as in nearby Ghana, the ‘maritime momentum’ continues to grow from strength to strength. Both countries have refined their strategies and the documents are close to being submitted for sign-off and execution by the requisite authorities. External partners, including the government of Denmark, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have steadfastly supported the progress.

SWAIMS too, in its role of strengthening governance and law-enforcement frameworks, has supported Nigeria’s strategy: most recently at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Defence and UNODC from 27th–30th September in Lagos.

Much of the work that preceded the workshop and the wisdom of its architects is succinctly summed up in its very title: Inter-Agency Expert Consultative Dialogue Session for the Articulation of the Implementation Plan of Nigeria's National Maritime Strategy (NMS). The best way to assure strategy acceptance and adoption is to move from theoretical principles to concrete actions. As one of the facilitators said in the opening session, there is no definition of an implementation plan. But there are parameters of who will do what, where, when and how, and a commitment to a composite rather than segmented approach. The comprehensive approach convenes stakeholders with different interests and insights, such as the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Marine Police, as well as the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Ministry of Transport and so on. This broad base ensures a technically informed focus on activities while also firmly anchoring inter-agency cooperation in the strategy right from the outset.

The representatives from different government ministries, departments and agencies and a few international experts identified priority actions for each of the six strategic objectives. Co-chairing one of these working groups, SWAIMS facilitated the elaboration of tasks and activities to deliver on each of these priority actions. Existing and potential resources were identified, as were the particular role(s) each agency would play, the timeline and performance indicators.

The next steps are further refinement by the drafting team, after which the Ministry of Defence will submit the strategy to the Federal Executive Council before the end of the year.

The value of such a document for promoting agency and ownership was emphasised by Phil Heyl, an IMO consultant. A strategy allows national authorities to collectively reflect on, initiate and work with homegrown diagnoses and solutions, rather than merely reacting to the perspectives of external partners.

But the work is far from over and has in fact just begun. Translating the implementation plan into action will require more focused efforts and detailed work by the key stakeholders. In concert with other partners, SWAIMS will continue to support the process every step of the way.

In terms of the broader context, integrated maritime strategies have been formulated both at continental (2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy) and regional (ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy) levels.

But as is evident above, domestication at national level is a work in progress, with a head of steam building behind such efforts in Ghana and Nigeria.


3. News roundup from SWAIMS and its implementing partners


Camões: Preparing the ground – Concordance on RHIBS, equipment and training

A draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) prepared by Camões IP was sent to ECOWAS to be circulated to coastal ECOWAS countries. The MoU will help with identifying the recipients of rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs), ensure smooth importation of RHIBs and other equipment, and prepare for the training and maintenance components of the activity. The draft MoU was referred to at the ECOWAS Chiefs of Naval Staff meeting in mid-November.

UNODC: Tool for navigating national laws across the ECOWAS region

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is drafting a manual on civil-law and common-law systems in the ECOWAS region. The purpose is for judicial authorities in civil- or common-law systems to easily and readily understand each other regarding evidence collection and court admissibility.


Training at ISMI and RMU: A time for reflection and action

Having already offered preliminary courses to kickstart the SWAIMS training programme, at both L’Institut de sécurité maritime interregional (ISMI, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) and the Regional Maritime University (RMU, Accra, Ghana), it is now time for simultaneous reflection and action.

ISMI and RMU are needs- and feedback-responsive. Consequently, they are reviewing their course curricula based on lessons learnt and feedback received. For instance, the 8th–12th November 2021 training at ISMI for civil society organisations (CSOs) is in direct response to requests made at SWAIMS 1st regional CSO workshop in Cotonou in July.

But why not hear it directly from course participants themselves? In Issues 1 and 2 of SWAIMS News, we brought you diverse voices of the graduates from SWAIMS training courses. In this issue, we now turn the spotlight on RMU and cross over to Ghana, having previously featured ISMI and Nigeria.


SAN-speak: Voices of the SWAIMS Alumni Network

We introduced the SWAIMS Alumni Network (SAN) in SWAIMS News Issue 1. The story continues...

Marine security burrows to the bone marrow: A regional ‘dual citizen’ speaks on new passion

Meet Josephine Adwoa Ashia (pictured). “Ghanaian by parentage and Nigerian by acclimatisation!” Josephine Adwoa Ashia she declares, explaining this duality: “I consider myself a Ghanaian-Nigerian.”

This dual citizenship was further cemented by a SWAIMS training course on Maritime Affairs and Security in the ECOWAS Region at Accra’s Regional Maritime University. The deep-diving and comprehensive eight-module course has given Josephine a deeper understanding of her newly discovered passion for maritime security in the region.

A published author and Senior Analyst at Ghana’s Ministry of National Security, Josephine works at the Security Governance Initiative Secretariat. The initiative is a partnership between Ghana and USA to secure Ghana’s air, land and sea borders, and operate cyber and counterterrorism units.

“The course met my aspirations to better understand the policy framework and the legal intricacies of the maritime space,” she affirms. “The breakout sessions were particularly informative. Participants from the Gambian seaport and Nigerian Navy helped enrich the course with practical knowledge and maritime domain awareness such as UNCLOS,“ (1) she recalls.

But did the course cover everything she would have wished for on maritime security? Mostly. “But I was also interested in the foreign and diplomatic aspects. Because when ships are attacked and crew kidnapped, the implications go beyond security; one needs to bring in immigration and foreign service because consular services need to be notified of their citizens’ predicaments.”

Still, and with her newfound passion for maritime security, Josephine would readily recommend the course to colleagues in Immigrations and Customs. “More government departments should be aware of the maritime security problems plaguing the ECOWAS region,” Josephine adds. “The situation is frightening because piracy has continued. This makes countries consider raising levies on ships, adversely affecting the ECOWAS region. Most people fail to see the inevitable – yet not readily visible – connection between maritime insecurity in the region and instability. They fail to see that the insecurity in the region affects imports and exports leading to higher importation costs and lower export earnings, as well as fuelling shortages and instability. Why are piracy suspects when arrested only fined paltry amounts then released?” (2) she poses, making a momentous question–answer statement that warrants high-level regional attention. “Pirates take advantage of countries not being organised. Until countries get their act together and work in unison, they will all continue to struggle with maritime insecurity.”

Josephine notes that while USA and Europe are making efforts to partner with naval forces in the region, oftentimes this pits sovereignty against security.

“Policymakers are not putting enough resources into solutions to curb maritime insecurity in the ECOWAS region. There must be more attention to the Maritime Operations Centres [MOCs] and more investment in operational sectors” she asserts. “Fully operational MOCs will go a long way in using intelligence to fight maritime insecurity in a targeted and concerted manner. Policymakers should also be more intentional in including women in the maritime space. There is a dire shortage of women in the core maritime business.” She says this broader and deliberate inclusion would aid in the fight against maritime insecurity.

Josephine aspires to further deepen her knowledge of maritime security and is open to attending programmes on maritime security.

She can be reached through the SAN secretariat.

(1) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
(2) But the tide is turning, with landmark convictions in Togo and Nigeria supported in part by UNODC through SWAIMS. See
SWAIMS News Issue 2.

A tribute to the late Commander Yussuf Benning

It is with deep sorrow that we learnt of the tragic demise of Commander Yussuf Benning, the Director of ECOWAS’ Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) Zone F.

A friend of many in the maritime community, Commander Benning was a strong advocate of regional cooperation and a champion of maritime security in West Africa. More

Inside the SWAIMS engine room: New staff, new developments

Rui AmadoWe are delighted to announce that on 17th September, Commander Rui Amado of the Portuguese Navy joined SWAIMS and began work immediately. With Rui’s arrival, the SWAIMS Technical Assistance Team is now fully complete. More on Rui’s rich background, including previous experience in West Africa

The SWAIMS Technical Committee Meeting was held on 21st October 2021, as a necessary and preparatory precursor to the SWAIMS Programme Steering Committee (PSC) meeting that followed on 4th November. The PSC approved both the SWAIMS progress report and proposed one-year workplan.

The PSC meeting was jointly chaired by Dr Cyriaque Agnekethon, ECOWAS’ Director of Peacekeeping and Regional Security and Ms Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, First Counsellor and Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to ECOWAS and Nigeria. Attending was Col Abdourahmane Dieng, PhD, Head of ECOWAS’ Regional Security Division, as well as representatives of SWAIMS implementing partners. More

PSC meeting screenshot below courtesy of the EU-funded ECOWAS Regional Authorising Officer Support Unit (RAOSU)


4. Events


  • 1st regional workshop on advocacy, fundraising and conflict management for the benefit of maritime civil society organisations in West Africa, 7th–8th July, Cotonou, Benin. Photos
  • Webinar: Curbing emerging maritime threats in Senegal, 15th September 2021. View/download presentations on our SlideShare account
  • Expert Group meeting on ECOWAS' Act on the conditions of transfer of persons suspected of having committed acts of piracy, organised by UNODC under the SWAIMS Project, 28th September–1st October 2021, Dakar, Senegal. Photo
  • 2nd regional workshop on advocacy, fundraising and conflict management for the benefit of maritime civil society organisations in West Africa, 12th–14th October 2021, Saly, Senegal. Photos | One of several media stories
  • Training at ISMI: Contribution of civil society in the context of the fight against offences committed at sea: case of armed robbery, maritime piracy, marine pollution and illicit trafficking, 8th–12th November 2021, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Photos | Press release: FrenchEnglish
  • SWAIMS and some of its implementing partners were privileged to have been invited to – and participated in – the 2nd meeting of the ECOWAS Subcommittee of the Chiefs of Naval Staff at Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, 15th–16th November 2021. More
  • SWAIMS attended the 3rd Technical Rotating Group Meeting on Enhancing Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea and made a presentation at GoGMI’s 1st Blue Career and Business Expo, Accra, Ghana, 9th–10th November 


  • Awareness-raising workshop for landlocked countries in the ECOWAS region, Niamey
  • Training workshop on maritime security data collection and dissemination at ECOWAS' Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) Zone E and at ECOWAS' Regional Centre for Maritime Security in Western Africa/Centre régional de sécurité maritime de Afrique de l'Ouest (CRESMAO)
  • CRESMAO Open Days – Goal: strengthen links between the Yaounde Architecture, security services, private and public sectors and civil society
  • SWAIMS Technical Assistance Team (TAT) participation in G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FoGG) meeting, Dakar, Senegal
  • TAT visits to The Gambia and Liberia to provide information on SWAIMS and consult stakeholders on the  maritime governance framework


Follow SWAIMS Project  on                
SWAIMS is a project of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Regional Security Division, jointly implemented with DAI.

Sent by SWAIMS News. All text available under a Creative Commons licence.

You are receiving this email because you subscribed to SWAIMS News, or because you have expressed interest in receiving more information from SWAIMS.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.
Did you receive this as a forward? Please subscribe!

Comments or feedback? We’re all ears at!

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
ECOWAS · Yakubu Gowon Cres 114 · Asokoro Abuja · Nigeria

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp