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TRANSCRIPT: African Union's Shinkaiye Calls Maritime Security a World Issue at AFRICOM-Hosted Conference Conclusion
Ambassador John K. Shinkaiye, African Union Commission chief of staff, concluded the Africa Maritime Safety and Security: Towards Economic Prosperity Conference with an address to attendees from Africa, Europe and the U.S. October 14, 2010, at the
Ambassador John K. Shinkaiye, African Union Commission chief of staff, concluded the Africa Maritime Safety and Security: Towards Economic Prosperity Conference with an address to attendees from Africa, Europe and the U.S. October 14, 2010, at the Millennium Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany.

Shinkaiye said maritime security is one of the most important issues facing the world today. To address maritime issues, the African Union is developing Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy, a long-term vision plan to provide sustainable governance of Africa's maritime domain.

A complete transcript of Shinkaiye's closing remarks are below.

Distinguished Principals and Participants,Ladies and Gentlemen, It is my distinguished honor, on behalf of the African Union Commission and its Chairperson to make these closing remarks at the end of this conference on African Maritime Safety and Security Towards Economic Prosperity. The Conference has enabled us to have an in-depth discussion of one of the most important issues facing the world today: how to improve maritime safety and security in order to ensure economic prosperity for all and to have an enhanced dignity for African people, through sustainable governance of Africa's maritime domain.

Several metaphors and symbols come to mind when dealing with maritime issues. As an African, seeing my continent surrounded by water, I realize that Africa is a big island. As such, we must look to our maritime domain as a vast and virtually unexplored area with enormous potentials to play a key role in helping the continent realize its true development capacity. In many important ways, the future of Africa is very much connected with the waters that surround us. But, to fully realize this promise of development, Africa must meet the many threats and challenges that emanate from the seas. Too many of our citizens perish at sea – the victims of human traffickers. Too much of our fish is stolen by foreign vessels thereby endangering our food security. Too much of our oil is stolen by unscrupulous individuals and organizations, thereby, depriving us of precious resources. Too many ships dump nuclear and toxic wastes in our waters, leading to death and disease for quite a few Africans. Too many pirates roam our waters and disrupt our maritime connections with the rest of the world, thereby hampering trade and increasing the cost of doing business in Africa.

Addressing all these threats and challenges impelled us at the AU to begin to develop Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy, intentionally called AIM-Strategy, which is an overarching multilayered long-term vision for enhanced dignity of African citizens, through sustainable governance of Africa's maritime domain. We at the AU are fully cognizant of the importance of this and are earnestly engaged in the process of developing the appropriate strategic frameworks that will enable us address not just the threats and challenges but also to fully take advantage of all the opportunities associated with Africa's maritime domain. The number of AU Commission Departments represented at this Conference over the last two days, illustrates that the Commission views maritime security and safety as a cross-cutting issue.

This maritime connection with the rest of the world brings to mind a saying: together, as the global community, we are all in the same boat. All together. As we heard repeatedly during this conference, global and African maritime interests converge at various points in important ways. I would also suggest that the maritime threats and challenges facing Africa are not Africa's alone. In direct and indirect ways, they are also threats and challenges to the international community. Thus, and as we saw in the last two days of intense deliberation on these issues, solutions must also be found in a collaborative manner by deepening partnerships between Africa and the rest of the world in this area.

Such partnerships can take many forms. We must continue to work together to establish and strengthen these partnerships across all the maritime sectors, not just in the security aspect. We look forward to jointly working with our international, government, non-government, and private sector partners, on possible areas for future cooperation and collaboration.

We hope this is the beginning of a sustained and productive partnership. The AU is working towards a conference of this type to be held in Africa and to focus on the specific steps we must take on the ground, especially at the regional and national levels, to further our engagement to ensure that Africa can derive positive benefits from our work on maritime challenges and opportunities. We had appealed to you all to collaborate with us on this Conference and the development of African Integrated Maritime Strategy. We hope that this appeal will receive positive response from all our partners.

We have listened, with great appreciation, to the many views expressed during the Conference and the very helpful proposals/recommendations made. I believe that from the presentations made by the African Union Commission, you will believe me when I say that we are in harmony with the observations and the recommendations made. One recommendation I will single out is that relating to the development of an Integrated Maritime Strategy. We fully agree that such a Strategy must be all encompassing and not focusing only on the security aspect of maritime security. One specific but intriguing proposal is the appointment of two Special Representatives for Maritime Strategy. We will bring this to the attention of the Chairperson of the Commission for appropriate consideration. I would hope that if such a Special Representative is appointed, he or she will find support from all of us present here and the governments, organizations and institutions we represent.

Finally, Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to reiterate our appreciation to the Government of the United States, through the Department of State and Defense and our host, the US Africa Command. Allow to make specific reference to Ambassadors Johnny Carson, Vicki Huddlestone and Yates, not only for their participation in this Conference but also for the interest they have always shown in Africa and on African matters and for promoting Africa's interest in the US, but, importantly, elsewhere too.

We also thank other organizations, particularly, the African Center for Strategic Studies and the US Naval Forces for their contribution to the organization of this Conference. We are grateful to all moderators, presenters and Resource Persons who guided the various discussion groups. We are thankful to all the staff who put the arrangements together. They performed their duties with professionalism, and very importantly, always with a smile. That was very helpful to all the participants to who the African Union also expresses appreciation for their contributions.

My last words are reserved for General Ward our host on the ground. We like to use this opportunity to pay tribute to him for this manner in which he has made the establishment of Africa Command acceptable to Africa. Something that was not always evident when the US made the proposal to establish the Command. I believe that General Ward's own personal qualities contributed to the turn around and we thank him for this immense contribution to helping tackle Africa's many serious security problems. The hosting of this Conference is an example of what I am talking about. We do wish him the very best now and in the future.

Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your attention and I do hope that ways will be found to implement the major outcomes of this Conference.