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TRANSCRIPT: Multi-City Media Roundtable at African Maritime Safety and Security Conference
Senior African and U.S. officials highlighted the importance of regional and international cooperation in protecting Africa's 39,000 kilometers of coastline during an October 13, 2010, video teleconference with reporters in Addis Ababa, Paris
Senior African and U.S. officials highlighted the importance of regional and international cooperation in protecting Africa's 39,000 kilometers of coastline during an October 13, 2010, video teleconference with reporters in Addis Ababa, Paris and Stuttgart.

The three-way, live video question-and-answer session took place during the 2010 Conference on Maritime Safety and Security: Towards Economic Prosperity, attended by more than 170 delegates, including representatives of the African Union Commission, nearly 20 African nations, the U.S. government, and nongovernmental representatives. The conference was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense. The two-day event was hosted by U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

Following is the full transcript of the news conference:

MODERATOR: Good morning everyone. Welcome to this press event as part of the 2010 Maritime Safety and Security Conference. First, do we have good audio from Addis and Paris?

ARS-PARIS: Yes, we have good audio from Paris.

USEMB ADDIS: Yes, we can hear you in Addis.

MODERATOR: I'm Ken Fidler, from the U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Office. I will offer a few brief comments and then turn it over to our distinguished panel members for their opening remarks.

This international conference has brought together more than 170 participants representing the African Union Commission, nearly 20 African nations, U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense, Africa Command, along with international agencies, inter-governmental organizations, academic and private sector experts. The conference is co-sponsored by the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and hosted by U.S. Africa Command.

Thank you all for joining us today from Addis Ababa and Paris, and our guests here in the room.

With that, I would like to introduce our panel members:

Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs;

His Excellency Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission;

General William E. Ward, commander, United States Africa Command;

and Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa, Office of the Secretary of Defense

With that, Assistant Secretary Carson, sir, we would appreciate your opening comments.

AMB JOHNNIE CARSON: Thank you very much. Thank you all for coming here this morning and greetings to all of you who are joining us via video conference from Paris and from Addis Ababa. I am pleased to be here this morning in Stuttgart to co-sponsor this conference on Maritime Safety and Economic Prosperity with one of my colleagues, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vicki Huddleston. We are joined this morning by General Ward, who is our gracious host for the next two days, and His Excellency Erastus Mwencha, the AU's Deputy Chairperson. I want to extend a very special vote of thanks to General Ward and Dr. Mwencha for their contributions in making this conference so successful. We also appreciate greatly the participation of nearly a dozen officials from the African Union Commission.

Maritime security is an area where the U.S. and Africa have interests that converge and overlap. Those interests include fostering sustained economic growth and development, ensuring free movement of goods on the strategically important transportation corridors off the African coast, protecting the environment, maintaining port security and infrastructure, preventing illegal fishing, and protecting offshore oil and gas installations. All of these things are of importance to Africa. They are of equal importance to the United States and also to the global community. Therefore we find that today's conference gives us an opportunity to promote greater collaboration and cooperation in helping to ensure that African countries can realize the greatest benefits from their resources, from the sea, and also where we can work with African countries to protect those coastal and maritime resources from being exploited illegally. It is a great pleasure, as I said, to be here with my colleagues and we certainly welcome your questions after the opening statements. I'll turn now to Dr. Mwencha.

H.E. ERASTUS MWENCHA: Thank you very much Ambassador Carson and General Ward and Ambassador Huddleston. I'd also like to thank you, the journalists out there and thank you for the interest you have taken in this very important subject of maritime safety and security.

For us in Africa this is a subject of great importance because as you know the coastline of Africa is about 39,000 kilometers. Now that poses an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity because in that coastline lies great wealth, in which Africa is only getting a small portion. Often we only get to hear about hijacking and piracy, but that's not all about the coastline of Africa. The coastline of Africa is about trade; it is about food security; it is about energy; it is about human trafficking and it is also about toxic waste. But above all it is about governance for the continent and the wealth of the continent.

The challenges that face Africa today are global and the solutions can only be global. That's why we are so happy to be here to partner with our friends and partners, and we would like to thank in particular the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense and the other agencies for coming to work with us, to talk about these very important aspects of maritime safety and security. We would like to listen to you, what you have to say, and especially for you. Because for us we believe the greatest challenge facing Africa now is ignorance, knowledge about what needs to be done and what has to be done. Your role is to pass on this message to the rest of Africa so that Africa can work together for the sake of our continent. Thank you.

GEN WILLIAM WARD: Well, Good morning. And to those of you who are joining us virtually, let me say welcome to you. To those of you in the room, I thank you all for being here today. I'd also like to thank Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson and Assistant Secretary of Defense Vicki Huddleston for sponsoring this maritime conference. Deputy Chairperson Mwencha -- it's certainly U.S. Africa Command's great pleasure to host you and the African Union delegation who are also here. And thank you sir for your presence.

U.S. Africa Command is indeed pleased to have a role in the international effort to promote positive and meaningful efforts to assist our African partners in the area of maritime safety and security as they pursue greater maritime domain awareness. We have many programs designed to do just that as we work with our partners in Africa both bilaterally but also regionally and continentally. I'd like to highlight one of the programs for you this morning prior to taking your questions.

Africa Partnership Station is Africa Command's primary maritime security engagement initiative. APS is beginning its fifth iteration, and we are seeing steady growth in partner nation capacity and greater maritime coordination between African partners on the continent and within the regions.

More importantly, the Africa Partnership Station is truly an international initiative -- 26 African, European and South American countries have participated in APS events to date; we have seen international staff members on the APS crew since 2007 at its inception. Just this year, a Nigerian Navy captain served as the deputy commander of APS-West; on APS-East, a Mozambican commander was the chief of staff. We've also seen the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom place their vessels under the APS banner, with more planned for this next year. We are excited about this program, what it has achieved and how it is bringing together all the various stakeholders who can assist in contributing to improved maritime safety and security around the coasts and littorals of Africa as these nations take the steps that they see important in increasing their maritime domain and awareness over their territorial waters and their exclusive economic zones.

Thank you for being with us this morning and we look forward taking additional thoughts and comments from you. Thank you very much.

AMB VICKI HUDDLESTON: Good morning. It's wonderful to be here and to participate in this opportunity. Thank you General Ward, Dr. Mwencha and Assistant Secretary Carson.

I think that when I began my career in Africa, over thirty years ago, we wouldn't have been exchanging views like this on the internet with Paris, and with Addis and here in Stuttgart. We had at that time, over 30 years ago in Africa, African states were just becoming independent and beginning to form their governments. Now, more African states than ever are democratic, more African states than ever are offering education and health care to their growing populations. The Organization of African Unity has become the African Union, which is a stronger and more dynamic institution.

Many, many good things have happened to Africa over the past three decades. But also over the past three decades, and especially in this last decade, Africa has begun to face transnational threats. Threats that indeed have come from the outside for the most part, and are challenging Africa's ability not only on land to preserve the governance that it has fought so hard to provide for its people, but also in the sea-lanes and in the coastal areas. So, what do I mean by transnational threats? Well, religious extremism, ethnic divisions, all these issues are preyed upon by extremists. And how does that affect the maritime areas? It affects the maritime areas because of the possibility of a nexus between extremism and illicit activities such as drug smuggling, weapons smuggling, people smuggling. All this has an impact on the security of the coast line. But even more than that, we have to think of the coast line in terms of Africa's riches, its fishing industry, its oil industry. These industries offshore can provide wealth for African nations and for its people in health and development it but unless they're preserved and protected they won't be able for doing so. And finally, as Dr. Mwencha has so eloquently mentioned in his keynote speech to us this morning, Africans -- and we hope to help you with all of these issues and especially in this issue -- must protect the environment from off shore dumping, from rivers that are polluted and ruin reefs and potential fishing grounds and hatcheries. So, the environment becomes absolutely essential, good environment and good stewardship, to the preservation of the coast of Africa. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: thank you Ambassador Huddleston. Thank you very much. Now we will go to Addis for the first question.

VOICE: Are you in?

GEN WARD: Yes, we hear you.

REPORTER: My name is (inaudible) and I am with Africa (inaudible) Magazine. My question will go to Deputy Chairperson Mwencha. Most of the long term problems on the Continent (inaudible) governance and other problems in Africa. So what is the strategy of the Africa Union in terms (inaudible) or other types of maritime security? In a related question, for example the African Union has (inaudible) the realization and operationality of the Africa Standby Force this year. Does that means the African Standby Force would have a Navy that would deal with coastal and maritime problems? Thank you.

H.E. MWENCHA: Thank you very much for your important question. I hope I got your words, the first question was about the challenge of governance and how we can secure coastlines. Yes we do recognize that the problem of governance is indeed big in terms of Africa having a coherent strategy to be able to tackle the issue of maritime security and safety. And as you know, the problem that is on land reflects itself in the sea. And if you take the case of what is happening in Somalia, the problem is not really at the sea. The problem is in the land. And if you have good governance and you have good structures, in any African country, these issues are not likely to manifest them in the sea. So in Africa we know having a hole even in one country, like in the case of Somalia, it affects everybody else in the continent. So that's why I said earlier that this is a global problem and that we can only have global solutions. But for Africa, we have to do something for ourselves. We have developed and we are developing a strategy. That strategy has a responsibility to an individual level, at the national level, and in the continental level. And that strategy requires that first of all, we share information. We coordinate, we work together, within the continent. And, we have a capacity to be able to, you know, have our coastlines policed and safeguarded from international pirates, but also those that do illegal fishing, toxic waste and the rest. That requires resources to do that. And that is an element that we also seek to partner with the rest of the international community, to help each other. To be able to help with the problem. Now, the second part of your question was, how is the African Standby Force being developed and will it have capacity, like naval capacity to do that? Yes in the long run, that is indeed our strategy. And as you know, for instance, the EastBrig, we are now drilling, are now preparing, first of all the first elements of it to be mobilized at short notice and have adequate capacity and capability, but yes we are looking at that as in the long term. That would be one of the key elements for the Standby Forces for the continent.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We will stay with Addis for the second question. And as a reminder, please speak clearly. Thank you.

REPORTER: Thank you. My name is Frank Jeda (SP?) from the Nigerian Guardian Newspapers. And my question is actually directed to Ambassador Carson. There is still a lingering concern in many African countries, that despite the maritime problems we have, AFRICOM might eventually end up being an instrument for direct intervention in African countries where U.S. interests are perceived to be under threat. And we'll take cases like the maritime situation in Nigeria where the oil and gas industry is facing internal domestic problems. And in the course of this meeting your having in Stuttgart, has there been any serious discussion about how to clear the issue because it's still a concern and many people think the effectiveness of AFRICOM is going to depend solely on how well Africans will believe that it's a collective effort and not an instrument to direct U.S. intervention in African domestic policy in specific countries. Thank you.

AMB CARSON: Thank you very much for that question. African states are sovereign. African states have a responsibility to protect their natural resources. They have a responsibility to protect their people. It is not the responsibility of the U.S. government to do this. The U.S. government can offer collaboration, cooperation and assistance to individual African states, and it can also work together with important regional organizations like the African Union, which we are doing here in this conference. But the primary responsibility for protection of a country's sovereignty, its people, its territory, and its resources both on and off shore rest with those governments and sub-regional organizations. Indeed we do as a nation have interests, commercial and business interests, in those countries. But those assets especially the ones you are referring to -- oil and gas -- are under the protection of the host nation governments. We can only play an important secondary and sometimes tertiary role, but we have no responsibilities and certainly have no intent of injecting ourselves into the protection of these assets.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much for that question. Now we will go to Paris for the next question.

REPORTER: Good morning dear gentlemen. I would like to ask a question to General Ward. It will be a very technical question. Speaking about piracy and the problem is the efficiency of these acts of piracy. It is very strange to see how, or to know that far in the sea, ships are identified and captured by pirates, which is surprising. They have technical ways of acting which are not related to the society in where they live. On the same range there is another problem, which has been described by Der Spiegel said on the 24 November 2008 saying that the payment of ransom have been done through, for example, English banks, and the last point is that the pirates are a lot of times released on the fact that there is no rule to judge them. So I am asking the following question. Is there a -- as I say in French -- laisse faire -- I mean something left to do concerning these pirates from the outside world? And my paper is monthly Afrique Asie (Sp?). Thank you.

GEN WARD: Well, thank you for that question. You directed it to me but the context seems more appropriate to my colleagues to my left and to my right here, with respect to some of the policy implications of apprehension and laws associated therein as the issue of payments of ransoms, etcetera, and etcetera. To be sure, as you indicated the seas and oceans are very vast and the ability of those who would conduct piracy acts to operate on those vast oceans is quite extensive, as I believe you pointed out. Technical means exist so far, so far as in identifying vessels but in order to thoroughly understand a process, procedure, call it interrogation, being close enough to understand intent, goes on, and that is the work being done by the international community as a part of the efforts being undertaken in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere to protect the global shipping lanes in particular in that part of the world. I think those efforts are efforts that will continue.

With respect to once a suspected pirate is apprehended or not, the disposition of what goes on, clearly those are events and activities that are determined not by the militaries and navies who perform the antipiracy work at sea but clearly in the form of, or in the responsibility of the nations of the world, you know, the diplomats, other international bodies, the African Union, the nations of the continent, but also those who are also concerned to determine the disposition of and further steps that are being taken in response to addressing that symptom of what goes on because of the lack of effective government there in Somalia. And I'll stop at that and certainly leave it to any of my other colleagues to respond further.

AMB HUDDLESTON: I'd like to pick up where GEN Ward left off and address the part of your question that asked about how can pirates take over these vessels in the open ocean, and then I'd like to turn it to what can be done. Pirates can take over the vessels because the vessels are either slow moving, so the pirates can speed up and jump on them, or they're huge tankers in which they're so big there's very little security to know that the pirates are coming over the board. Or the ships themselves have not taken necessary precautionary measures, such as some vessels in the past used to leave their gang planks down and just didn't pull them up, so the pirates had a ladder to climb right on board. And that lets me turn to the issue of how important it is for the vessels, the vessel owners, the mariners themselves to take security precautions. One thing of course that they can do is do embark security and that security of course can keep a look out for the pirates. But equally importantly is that these vessels keep up good speed when they're going through areas that are pirate infested, such as the Straits. Another issue is that they pull up planks and anything else that the pirates can come up. Another issue is the ability to perhaps put up concertina wire around the ship so the pirates can't come over, or to put wire (?) over the bow of the ship if the pirates are attempting to assault it. To take diversionary measures. So a great deal of the responsibility also has to lay with the vessels and the vessel owners.

AMB CARSON: May I also add just a couple of comments to the already very good ones that have been made. What I would like to emphasize is that piracy in the Red Sea off the coast of Somalia is a global and international issue. It is not an issue solely for Somalia, for the regional states of the Horn in East Africa, or for Africa itself. The African community has borne the brunt of the piracy and the international response, particularly on the legal side, has been very, very minimal. We know that many countries around the world have put ships out in the Indian Ocean to counter the piracy but piracy continues to persist for two reasons. One is the lack of a government and an economy on shore and the other one is an absence, the continuation of impunity and the absence of punishment for people who are caught engaged in piracy. I would like to express enormous appreciation, particularly to the government of Kenya and also to the government of the Seychelles. Both of those countries have taken in, prosecuted and jailed more pirates than any other nations around the world. Many of the ships that are pirated have ownership which is international and not African, many of those ships are flagged by non-African countries and many of those ships are crewed by non-African crews. But in the end when pirates are captured by an international fleet, the owners of the vessels from different countries refuse to press charges in their countries. The countries that provide most of the crews refuse to press charges against the pirates, including when individuals have been killed and wounded. And many of the countries that flag these vessels refuse to press charges. So it is left for the countries in the region to have to take these pirates, put them in their jails, use their court systems, their judges, to prosecute, convict them and then keep them for long periods of time under incarceration.

I think it has been pointed out by a number of people, including Deputy Chairperson Mwencha today, about some of the larger vessels that have been hijacked. Recently we saw a vessel with a very large cargo that vessel was owned by citizens in Europe, it was crewed by Filipinos, and it was flagged by a country in the Caribbean, but yet when the pirates were caught none of those states involved were willing to prosecute and those pirates eventually had to be taken to Kenya.

It is important that the international community come forward. That countries in and around the globe that own these ships, that provide crews to these ships, that flag these ships, take responsibility for punishing the pirates who are engaged in piracy. It is not just an East Africa problem or an African problem, it is an international problem and until we can get the international community to stand up on the legal side to prevent this impunity legally, we are going to continue to have problems. The international community has got to stand forth.

I might add too that the United States has done its part and will continue to do its part. The U.S. over the last three years has only had one vessel kidnapped, the Maersk Alabama. That vessel was not allowed to go into Somali territory. The U.S. naval assets were deployed, they rescued the vessel, the captain, killed some of the pirates and brought some of them back to the United States because it was a U.S.-owned and crewed vessel, brought them back to the United States where they were prosecuted in New York City and the pirates are now serving jail sentences in New York. If in fact, there are German or French or Dutch or Indian or Pakistani or Japanese vessels and I'm just using those as an example and they are attacked it is incumbent upon those countries, those countries to take in the individual that attack those vessels and prosecute them. If they don't do that, they surely must provide some kind of financial assistance to the countries of East Africa to help defray the cost of dealing with the incarceration of pirates.

Last comment, paying ransoms does not help. Paying ransoms only encourages continued piracy. It only encourages those individuals who are to do it and go out and do it again and again and again. And if we combine that with an absence of punishment then we have the greatest form of impunity, which will only contribute to more piracy. Those countries that are owning vessel, flagging vessels, crewing vessels have to stand up and play their part in helping to end this problem.


MODERATOR: We would like to go back to Addis for the next question.

REPORTER: My Name is (inaudible) from Nigeria. My question goes; to anyone can answer my question. What do you expect from the conference in terms of being able to counter the (inaudible) areas in Africa. Is it technical support, which includes in terms of training (inaudible), thank you?

MODERATOR: Excuse me sir, could you please repeat to whom the question is for?

GEN. WARD: He said to anybody.

REPORTER: The question can be addressed to any member of the panel.

H.E. MWENCHA: What you have said is, you know, the solution is an ability to patrol. But patrolling the oceans, as he have said and endeavored to emphasize, piracy is a symptom of something else that is not working well in the system. And as we have seen in the case of Somalia the problem is not just on the sea it is also inland. It requires that we work together to solve the problem of governance to help the economy absorb the young people. Because, if you take the case of Somalia, the young people are living under poverty they are lured and easily accepted to take on these fast boats and to go and attack ships. Because it is work. But if there is anything that could be done in the economy first of all to stop the war in Somalia, to engage these young people in gainful employment, and disarm them, then you will tackle the problem of piracy. So yes the aspect that you rightly mentioned there is a need for cooperation, to share information, to have, you know, the capacity to be able to monitor what is happening and also to be able to police, as you indicated in your question.

AMB HUDDLESTON: I would like to add that the issue of judicial systems and rule of law is absolutely essential. The deputy chairperson has made a very good point about the problem is on land and the problem is about jobs, but also you don't have judicial systems that can punish the guilty, then you can't enforce rule of land. And equally important is corruption as long as there is corruption within theses societies -- and it is just not the African societies, it is international societies, because money is moving all around -- then you are diverting these very precious resources that could be used for jobs and investment and for opportunity in Africa. So this diversion of resources harms Africa's development, and one of the ways to address it is to essentially build strong institutions that prevent and discourage corruption through the justice system and through rule of law.

GEN WARD: I guess if you would permit me, one point I would make and it gets to your question with respect to the sort of things is that is conference may in fact lead to, insofar as leading to the Maritime safety and security that nations want to extend over their territorial waters. About for four years ago in Cotonou, Benin, a group of ministers of defense of African nations came together. I was present and at that session these ministers, their chiefs of navies came together talking about the capabilities that were required if they were to have a better chance of protecting their territorial waters. These capabilities range from having vessels, patrol boats that they could in fact patrol their waters. It included having systems in place that would provide some kind sort of warning or indicator of traffic in their waters. And so the work in additional to the things that have already been done and discussed as we will continue to do that came out of that meeting in Cotonou, Benin, a discussion of the type of capabilities that the nations would require to include maintaining those capabilities, the maintenance of those systems, the training of personnel to properly operate those systems, the connecting of those systems in a regional way so that information can be shared and passed among neighbors such that the ability of nations inter-regions the ability of the region itself to have a better chance of knowing what's going on and then dealing with that threat in ways that are protecting of the crews involved, because the crews are better trained, those are the sorts of things that we are doing that we have been doing with our Africa Partnership Station, the things that we have been doing with our African Maritime Law Enforcement Program, as we have also worked with the littoral nations and a very comprehensive and integrated way, and again, as was pointed out by the assistance secretary not because it is the United States of America or any other nation is doing it. It is because it's the nations who waters that are being threatened has increased capacity to secure and provide security for those waters in and of itself through these programs of helping them to increase their capacity. So that is the work we will continue to do.

We also know that that effort does not occur in a vacuum it is also linked with thing being done with other parts of our community, other international partners, other parts of our government, private enterprise. And so how we better coordinate and collaborate and the totality of those efforts is what this conference is what is conference will also hopefully led to, insofar as conclusions are concerned.

MODERATOR: Thank you, sir. Next question, please, to Paris.

REPORTER: My name is (inaudible), I'm from We have talked extensively about piracy off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. What we have not talked about is the increased problem of piracy off the coast of West Africa, that is the Gulf of Guinea. It is becoming a very big player in oil production internationally, and so its importance in the international field (inaudible) concerns that oil production is vital to the United States and other countries around the world. What Mr. Erastus said is the problem of insecurity needs global solution, but don't we need to tackle the problem locally, that is, at source? And what is being done to prevent new oil producing countries like Ghana from having such problems. The question is first of all directed to Mr. Erastus, and later then to Ambassador Carson.

H.E. MWENCHA: You are right that we spoke much about the terrorist problem in the eastern coast of Somalia, and indeed in the Gulf Coast we were saying that last year alone there were over 200 ships attacked in the Gulf of Guinea and all the problem as associated again with the oil production, as you said, and loss of cargo in that respect. Now, you continue to say what is being done locally. Earlier we made the remark that the problem is not just international, but at the individual level, at the national level, and the regional level. General Ward has indicated what the West African countries were doing, and in central Africa, across that region there are initiatives to bring together the countries so they can share information. They can also work together to have capability. But again that capability has got to be scaled up to work with international cooperation because of the elements that we said are associated at the international level. Thank you.

AMB CARSON: Let me add, if I could, just a very comments and elements to your questions piracy and attacks against shipping where ever it occurs around the world and especially in Africa, which we are talking about is detrimental to international commerce, it's detrimental to the economies of the countries that are subject to having their boats attacked, and it's detrimental to the citizens. So piracy, whether it occurs off the coast of Somalia or in the Gulf of Guinea, is a very negative economic and political factor.

Having said that the situations in Somalia or off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea are in fact amazingly different. I think if one were to analyze what is happening in the Gulf of Guinea one would probably look at this as being a criminal activity larger probably being carried out largely by Nigerian nationals against assets that are owned by private companies and by Nigerian entities in the Gulf of Guinea. And off the coast of Somalia you have a large number of Somalis going out and attacking international shipping, ships from around the world. Most of the piracy incidents that are occurring in the Gulf of Guinea are actually incidents of attacks of criminality that are being carried out by citizens of one country against ships and against oil platforms that are owned by Nigerians. So it is a slightly different situation. You see a lot of this being of a domestic criminal activity in Nigeria which needs to be addressed again primarily by the Nigerian authorities but also can receive the assistance of international support in terms of building up capacity and capabilities to have the Nigerian authorities address it appropriately and effectively.

MODERATOR: Thank you sir. We are at the end of our allotted time. Addis we have time for one more question.

REPORTER: Okay. Thank you very much. My question could be answered by Mr. Mwencha. My name is (inaudible) and I work for (inaudible) television. As has been mentioned here, maritime security (inaudible) been a challenge for several African countries which included the coastal areas and also land-locked countries (inaudible). I'd like Mr. Mwencha to tell me about the African integrated maritime strategy that has been mention here. I am asking because there is not much detail in the press release that has been given to us here. What is the strategy and what should countries of Africa expect in the near future in securing maritime security in the near future? Thank you.

H.E. MWENCHA: Thank you very much for again that important question.

The African maritime security and safety first of all is an integrated framework. Integrated in the sense that it is looking at all aspects of maritime safety and security from the transportation aspect, the energy aspect, the food aspect, that is nutrition because of the fisheries, and dumping of toxic waste in the region, and so forth. It also seeks to bring together all the parties, the stakeholders to the table, so that you can address it not only comprehensively but also synergize in times of intervention. And that intervention, first of all looks at the regional capabilities, what Africa is able to do and the aspect that Africa can also work with international community.

It also looks at not only the aspect of the immediate threats but also opportunities because in the coastline of Africa we are losing a lot because a lot of potential is not being exploited for the benefit of the continent and that requires we have a common strategy on how to maximize the benefits that the coastline offers to the continent.

And so it is both an interagency, intergovernmental, bringing together even the private sector, so that there is ownership in terms of the strategy and because of that to be able to reach out to all the stakeholders so that implementation can also be widely put in place. Because one of the problems that we have seen in the past is that, if you approach it from a purely one-sector point of view, whether it is a transportation issue, then the other interventions you may find that you are not working in concert, you are not looking at other aspects that could also endanger, even from the transport aspect itself. So that at the end of it all your intervention perhaps it will be ineffective and so that's why you also bring in the peace and security, the African Peace and Security Strategy, the Africa Standby Force, the African Peace and Security Council in Addis-Ababa itself, so that you have a comprehensive approach and also comprehensive intervention.

MODERATOR: Thank you Sir. Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's press brief. A complete transcript will be made available to you. We sincerely appreciate our distinguished panel members for taking time out of their very busy schedules to be with us today. Thank you all, and have a pleasant afternoon.