A European Union (EU) funded Interpol port security project (PSP) to enhance capabilities of law enforcement agencies and port authorities to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to threats is underway in nine African countries.
They are Angola, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles and Tanzania.
The PSP, according to an Interpol communique, is co-ordinated by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and implemented jointly with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Port premises are critical infrastructure, the international policing body explains, adding the size and complexity of port facilities, along with the volume of freight handled, make them difficult to secure.
“Ports require protection to avoid damage to the global economy resulting from disruption to supply chains and the flow of trade.
“In recent years, the East Africa, Southern Africa and Indian regions have seen increasing criminal activity in maritime affairs.
“Notwithstanding international and regional efforts to enhance maritime co-operation, countries in these regions experience piracy and armed robbery, drug trafficking, smuggling of small arms, light weapons and threatened species as well as human trafficking, illegal fishing and terrorism against port infrastructure.
“In addition to security implications, these illicit activities negatively impact on socio-economic and political conditions in countries of these regions.”
The project sees Interpol providing sustainable tools to relevant maritime security stakeholders to make a long-term difference to port security.
It will develop a regional mechanism for information sharing and exchange of actionable data as well as reinforce law enforcement response capacity to address vulnerabilities and counter persistent and emerging threats.
The PSP delivers specialised training modules, regional operational exercises, country-to-country exchange visits, on-site mentoring sessions and equipment and access to Interpol databases backed with robust technical support.
The PSP aims to enhance law enforcement techniques regarding harbour security, physical security of port infrastructure, installation surveillance and checkpoint practices to detect narcotics and other illicit goods.
Other aims are to increase knowledge of safety and security measures for port facilities; establish a regional network of trained port security experts and increase capacity to collect, input, analyse and exchange critical information. This will be go onto Interpol databases and information systems for further use.