The Yaoundé Architecture Regional Information System (YARIS), a capacity building programme, opened in Accra, Thursday as part of efforts to enhance the fight against maritime crime in Ghana and the Gulf of Guinea at large.
The two-week programme organised by the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) Multinational Maritime Coordination Center (MMCC) Zone F in Accra, is aimed at equipping participants to detect maritime threat, share information and ultimately mitigate maritime crime within the Gulf of Guinea.
Opening the programme, Director General, Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi said, the capacity building programme for effective information sharing and coordination of maritime security activities within the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain was a step in the right direction as far as addressing maritime crime was concerned.
He said, there had been recent reports of illicit activities including piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing, narcotics and arms trafficking in the region which had affected the peaceful use of the sea, impaired the exploitation of coastal resources and also undermined regional and global security.
"Effective responses to these threats require a comprehensive approach based on regional and international cooperation. In this regard, advancing the agenda of a secured maritime environment in the Gulf of Guinea has been a priority of the ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) and many relevant international agencies," he stated.
In responding to these threats, he said, efforts had been initiated at the regional and national levels under the framework of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct to mitigate and eliminate wide array of the security threats.
The launch of YARIS he added, was aimed at generating a collective synergy and mutual trust needed to support the interagency and intergovernmental fight against piracy as well as other trans-national organized maritime crimes.
"The YARIS platform is going to become a game changer in the sharing, coordination and exchange of actionable maritime information between Member States and other stakeholders," he stated.
"It provides a more user -friendly, precise and composite applications in one system, making it more effective and efficient in preventing the distortion or downgrading of shared intelligence and information," he added.
Government, he said, was grateful to the Yaoundé Structure leadership and EU GoGIN Team for selecting Accra and in particular the MMCC Zone F for the first on-site training.
Acting Director, MMCC Zone F, Mr Yussif Benning said the programme would help to resolve the growing challenges within the Gulf of Guinea.
"It is also a sign that the various initiatives imitated across the region by our governments and partners is yielding fruits," he stressed.
He urged participants to utilize the knowledge acquired from the training to impact on others in their various countries so they could effectively eliminate crime across board.
Participants for the programme were drawn from countries including Cameroon, France, Portugal, Nigeria, DR Congo, Cote d'voire, Congo and Ghana.