MOWCA, SG Seeks US Support to Lift Restrictions on MOWCA Countries’ Flagged Ships

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By Innocent Orok

Dr Paul Adalikwu, Secretary General of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) has stepped up interaction with the United States government to lift restrictions placed on some member countries allegedly implicated in illicit shipping activities.

Adalikwu who led a delegation from the MOWCA Secretariat to the US Embassy in Abidjan for a first leg of the strategic consultation aimed at promoting seamless participation of MOWCA countries in international trade within the global maritime space, reiterated the organisation’s commitment to the best ethical and lawful maritime practices.

Addressing the U.S Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, H.E Mrs Jessica Davis Ba, the MOWCA SG stated the organisation’s interest in promoting the International Ship and Port facility Security (ISPS) code which aims at enhancing security of vessels and their ports of call

He expressed the commitment of MOWCA in promoting environmentally friendly , safe and cost effective shipping without any encumbrance that may limit the economic potential of member countries

Dr Adalikwu recalled that at the instance of the U.S. Department of State invitation , MOWCA participated in the 2023 Registry Information Sharing Compact (RISC) Conference in Larnaca, Cyprus, on February 28–March 1, 2023 and a virtual meeting held on June 6 2023, with Mrs Jennifer Chalmers, Officer in change of Counter-proliferation Initiative.

Dr. Adalikwu recalled the US. DOS willingness to support MOWCA’s effort for preventive maritime security through the establishment of the Center for Information and Communication (CINFOCOM) with the aim to ensure a maritime situational awareness domain within MOWCA’s member states waters.

He added that MOWCA under his watch is committed to training and retraining of maritime practitioners and experts to enhance the human capital capabilities of member states

The CINFOCOM will help prevent transnational crimes committed at sea like sanctions evasion by North Korea and other state actors, who exploit poor enforcement due diligence by ship open registries to circumvent United Nations and U.S. trade restrictions.

Such enhanced CINFOCOM activities would tackle infractions like money laundering, illegal arms and drug Trafficking, piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal oil bunkering / crude oil theft along African coasts, Maritime Terrorism, Human Trafficking, Human Smuggling and; closely monitor the activities of asylum seekers travelling by sea within the West and Central African sub region

Responding, the U.S. Ambassador recalled that on February 6, 2024, she signed, on behalf of the United States, a Maritime Law Enforcement Agreement in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to facilitate cooperative maritime law enforcement activities to identify, combat, prevent and interdict illicit transnational maritime activities.

She also sought to know active MOWCA member States, including landlinked countries for clearer identification. She also advised that MOWCA should share a prioritized list of its expectations with the Political and Economic Officer of the Embassy.

Since assumption of office, Dr. Adalikwu has strengthened MOWCA’s interface with global maritime stakeholders aimed at supporting the economies of member countries and preparing grounds for its eventual transformation into a continent wide African Maritime Organisation (AMO).
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