Improving Port Security in the Indian Ocean, East and Southern Africa: an overview of 2022

9 January 2023 – Launched in 2020, the Port Security and Safety of Navigation in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean programme has officially wrapped up its third year. The programme is funded by the European Union for over 28 million euros, coordinated by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In line with the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS 2050) of the African Union and the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030, the EU Port Security Programme aims at promoting and strengthening port security and maritime safety management systems in ports and is active in nine countries in the region: Angola, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, and Tanzania.

In 2022, UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) experts successfully held in-country training events for over 750 trainees at 15 locations, focusing on the link between law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure a legal finish of crimes in ports. A final knowledge assessment showed that port security and law enforcement personnel gained an average increase of 33.14 % in technical knowledge pertaining to criminal activity and port security.

<em>Waterside and anchorage area security assessment Walvis Bay, Namibia 2022</em>
Waterside and anchorage area security assessment Walvis Bay, Namibia 2022

In Namibia, a four-week training course in Lüderitz and Walvis Bay in October and November welcomed over 90 participants, representing eighteen partner agencies. Ferdinand Hishitelwa, Protection Officer of Namport (Port Authority Namibia) Luderitz took the initiative to set up security patrols of the anchorage area following the UNODC training session:

This morning, I went to our tug master, I explained to him the importance of port security to do regular patrol around our port area as well at the anchoring area to check if there are any irregularities which can cause harm to our port and our communities at large.  He promised me that they will always take me along whenever they will going to the anchoring area for me to conduct a security patrol.  If not for this training, I could not do my job properly, thank you UNODC.”

In Madagascar, UNODC trained over 110 officers from different port agencies in Toamasina and Mahajanga. Counterparts included the police, immigration, customs, fire brigade, port management, and private sector operators. The training course had an immediate impact: one day after its conclusion, a joint team of officers who had attended the training intercepted 36 radiated tortoises, being smuggled into the illegal pet trade.

<em>Port of Mahajanga, Madagascar. ©Rijasolo</em>
Port of Mahajanga, Madagascar. ©Rijasolo

In addition, the UNODC Container Control Programme (CCP) opened a new unit in Maputo, Mozambique, organized training sessions in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique and conducted port assessment missions in Moroni, Comoros and Port Louis, Mauritius with the goal of understanding the risk management processes currently in place and assessing capability gaps and training and equipment needs. In total, 170 officers across the region received training and paved the way for new CCP activities planned for Madagascar and Mauritius in 2023.

Three years since its start, all implementing partners and beneficiaries in the EU PSP have constantly put in efforts to enhance port security for communities on the coastlines of the Indian Ocean West. A beautiful testament to all the hard work done has been gathered through photo exhibitions in Madagascar, Mauritius, and Tanzania that showcase how ports and people are interconnected.