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Cooperation for oil spill preparedness in west, central and southern Africa

A regional conference of countries in west, central and southern Africa has committed to continue to work at both national and regional levels to boost preparedness to deal with oil spill incidents which could be devastating both for the marine environment and financially, says an IMO release.

The conference (6-9 November) in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, was hosted by CIAPOL, the Ivoirian pollution control centre. It brought together industry and government focal points from 20 out of 22 west, central and southern African countries covered by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI-WACAF). This project is run by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency with responsibility for safety and security at sea and the prevention of pollution from ships, and IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues.

The GI-WACAF project aims to enhance the level of oil-spill preparedness in a particularly vulnerable region, adjacent to international sea trade routes and significant and rapidly expanding offshore oil and gas activity. The regional conference is the largest event for oil spill preparedness, response and cooperation activities in west, central and southern Africa. It is held once every two years to review progress to date, provide a forum to share experiences and set the project’s priorities for the next two years.

Participants discussed a number of topics, including relevant international and regional legislation, exercise and training, use of oil spill dispersants, trans-boundary cooperation and shoreline clean-up. Experts from Cedre, ITOPF, OSPRI, OSRL, SANCCOB and a number of international oil companies helped to facilitate* the conference, alongside the Project’s network of dedicated focal points from the region.

The GI-WACAF project, which was initiated in 2006, focuses on strengthening national oil spill response capacities as well as transboundary response capabilities, in line with IMO’s  International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC 90).

Since the GI-WACAF project’s inception, significant strides have been made throughout the region in the development of spill preparedness and response capacity, with nearly all countries now having a designated competent authority response for spill response. There has been a three-fold increase in the number of countries with a national oil spill contingency plan.

Further priorities for the next two years include more effective sharing of key information through the development of databases on available response resources, key contacts and response policies.

The need for improved inter-agency coordination and clear agreement and definition on the roles and responsibilities of those engaged in all aspects of oil preparedness and response at a national level were also highlighted at the conference. Further support in effectively addressing shoreline clean-up and waste management within national spill response systems, was also identified as a priority need for action in the next two years. 

The 22 African countries in the GI-WACAF project are: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

 

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