The Interregional Maritime Security Institute (ISMI) in Abidjan has trained maritime and sector officials in charge of targeting and controlling containers with focus on the fight against trafficking in fake medicines.
About 20 auditors which include customs officers, police officers, maritime affairs administrators, naval officers – from 10 countries in the Gulf of Guinea participated.
This training, which took place from 10 to 13 March 2020 at the campus of the Regional Academy of Marine Science and Technology (ARSTM) in Yopougon, Abidjan.
The training is supported by the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and organized by the French Cooperation (DCSD), in partnership with the French Directorate General of Customs and Indirect Rights (DGDDI) and the post of regional customs Attaché.
Speaking at the opening ceremony in Abidjan, the Director of ISMI, who spoke on behalf of the Director-General of ARSTM, Abe Ake Lazare said the effectiveness of a global security strategy obviously depends on operational means and the adoption of an adequate legal framework, but also on the capacity of the various actors to collect, analyse and disseminate information in order to target risks, define control strategies and guide interventions.
According to him, it is on the strength of this perception that the Yaoundé Summit resolutions placed emphasis, certainly on training and coordination of interventions, but also on information sharing and intelligence.
Abe Ake Lazare indicated that the organization of this seminar is in line with this perspective, i.e. to provide a framework for capacity building of the structures and services in charge of collecting, analyzing and processing intelligence with a view to targeting high-risk operations on containers.
He added that the seminar is a follow-up to the one organized in 2018 and is intended to help professionals master the techniques for controlling the flow of containers that feed our economies.
The Regional Coordinator For State Action At Sea Guillaume de BEAUREGARD noted that containerisation has become the main vehicle for transporting goods around the world.
He indicated that fraudulent traffic of all kinds is adapting at an impressive rate to the containerisation of goods flows, starting with the trafficking of fake medicines.
“For example, 67 tons of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and 200 tons of fake medicines were seized in Lomé and Abidjan respectively between June 2018 and November 2019,” he stressed.
According to him, 80% of the world’s goods transport is carried by containers. “I recently read that 50 ships in the world already have the capacity to carry more than 20,000 containers (for a single ship!).”
He added that a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), reveals that trafficking in fake medicines is the cause of 100,000 deaths a year in Africa.
“That is why on 17 and 18 January 2020, seven African heads of state met in Lomé, Togo, to find a solution to this scourge. As part of this meeting, a “framework agreement” should be signed shortly to criminalize this illegal trade,” he emphasized.
He urges participants to identify the threats and risks of port crime specific to the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, the training seeks to strengthen the capacities of the teams dedicated to targeting high-risk operations on containers, and of the teams dedicated to container control and search.
“And of course this course will provide an opportunity to take stock of the existing control mechanisms, the legal framework in place, the existing structures for sharing information and coordinating the action of the services, with a particular focus on the trafficking of fake medicines,” he intimated.
In terms of maritime safety, and in a globalised world, he posited that controlling the flow of goods is a vital issue that requires close attention and immediate action to combat fraudulent trafficking.