The increase in maritime traffic in Africa has both economic and security implications. It is estimated that 90% of the traffic towards Africa is maritime. The African continent has a 7% growth rate in maritime trade and represents 5% of global traffic, and 2% of container traffic. As such, stakeholders are keenly aware of the sector’s potential, as well as its vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the ports in West and Central Africa are critical to the economy of landlocked countries. These strategically important infrastructures are vulnerable to certain risks, of both intentional and incidental kinds. Ports may be targeted by criminal organisations carrying out terrorism, theft, smuggling, human trafficking or trafficking of illicit and dangerous goods. Terrorist attacks on ports could severely impact urban populations, the port infrastructures themselves, and local and regional economies dependent on port activities. Finally, industrial risks are particularly significant in the ports which are within densely-populated urban areas.
Given these risks, the European Commission has developed a maritime policy to strengthen the safety and security of ports, and finance a technical assistance project, the Western and Central Africa Port Security – WeCAPS. The project is implemented by Expertise France and its strategy is built around international regulatory frameworks and best practices in the area of port security. These include compliance with Chapter XI-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention) and its ISPS Code, the implementation of industrial best practices and applicable standards, and support for training of stakeholders involved in the security of port infrastructures.