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
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
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.