In Ghana, the focus of national security had been primarily land-centric, but recent developments have forced a paradigm shift as government, opinion leaders, and stakeholders increasingly recognize the wide-ranging benefits of a secure maritime environment. The recent events that triggered the awareness include the increasing use of the Gulf of Guinea for narcotics trafficking from South America to Europe through West Africa and the serious depletion of fishery resources as a result of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. These became major issues during the last national democratic elections. A most important development concerning Ghana's ocean domain is the recent discovery of oil and gas reserves in large commercial quantities off the western region of the nation.
This discovery has attracted much public attention, heightening the expectation that the anticipated windfall will impact positively on Ghana's economic fortunes and ultimately ameliorate the effects of the global economic downturn. Though a welcome news item, the maritime-security implications-including possible terrorist attacks and criminal activities such as hijacking-could threaten the oil industry. Other concerns include pollution, fishery interference, and accidents. The lessons to be learned from other countries in the sub-region are obvious.
It is against this backdrop that the Ghana Navy needs to position itself strategically to meet the challenges presented. This is the basis for a review of our maritime strategy, naval operations, and force structure to protect and defend the maritime territorial integrity of Ghana in support of national objectives for peace, stability, and prosperity. The maritime strategy focus of increased security involves two primary objectives: an effective level of maritime domain awareness and providing naval capabilities to operate effectively at the right place at the right time.
We are not oblivious to the fact that policing the sea requires more than the capability of any one individual nation to deliver. Our maritime strategy is therefore centered on effective collaborative efforts that require a combination of national, international, regional, private-industry, and stakeholder support to provide information/intelligence, platforms, professionals, and protocols necessary to secure our maritime domain against transnational threats. Our strategic objectives therefore include the following:
- Maintain the navy and the fleet, in particular, at a high level of operational readiness capable of responding to the national call at short notice.
- Maintain well-trained and highly motivated personnel at optimum manning levels at units and commands.
- Remain adaptable to change and keep pace with global technological advancement.
- Pursue non-traditional approaches to funding and resourcing the navy, including strong stakeholder collaboration in partnership with key players in the maritime industry.
- Develop an integrated IT-based logistics support and planned maintenance system for the fleet to enhance ship availability.
- Intensify both bilateral and multilateral cooperation with allied navies within the framework of the African Partnership Station.
- Pursue sub-regional maritime cooperation with sister navies through joint training and exchange of information and visits to enhance safety and security.
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