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Unifying maritime intelligence to improve security in W/Africa – Ugwala

The establishment of a common communication network among West African States would help to improve the security of the territorial waters of countries within the region, Julius Ugwala, Nigeria’s Chief Inspector of Diving, has said.

Ugwala, who made this assertion recently during the West African Maritime and Shipping Conference held virtually, said this has become an essential component in line with other efforts to solve the problem of maritime insecurity within the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region.

According to him, a unified central intelligence system which would leverage on modern technologies to share and coordinate information relating to piracy and other maritime related crimes plaguing the states of West Africa, would nib insecurity in the bud.

“To curb unrest in our territorial waters or reduce it to the barest minimum, all maritime agencies in coastal states need to come out with a proper escort corridor, naval patrol at sea, coast guards, modern communication systems, and an office that would coordinate a common communication system to monitor the movements on the West African waters,” Ugwala said.

He said the approach would improve relationship with key partners in the West African region, make for safety along the West African waterways, improve local skills and create employment.

On the impact of technology post Covid-19, Ugwala said the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) value chain has brought opportunities that would outlast the present time to the maritime industry.

The setbacks of the pandemic, according to him, were initial but with the innovations in technology through the period, shipping is evolving to accommodate virtual processes leading to efficiency.

“We do not want to go backwards because we are faced with Covid-19. Rather, we want to see how we can take advantage, using technology to build our businesses where we can do business without even seeing each other,” he said.

Continuing, Ugwala further said: “Electronic documentation is another effective way of doing business. We do not have to wait for someone to come from China before documents are signed. Modern ways of inserting signature digitally are available and our vessels can move from one place to another.”

The Chief Inspector of Diving further noted that these modern ways of doing business will help people to cope with the challenges being faced today in the shipping sector.

Ugwala who also bemoaned the lack of confidence in African manpower, noted that sadly, Africans feel inferior to expats neglecting Africans to employ foreigners into roles that Africans are capable of occupying.

“This means that we do not have confidence in our own indigenous people. We need to start encouraging our people in the labour market. We need to go into technology. We need to go into cost studies. We need to keep on learning, training and retraining, if we want to sustain the market”, he said.

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