Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, CNS, Ghana Navy

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Interview with the newly appointed 17th Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana’s Navy

Throughout his illustrious career, Rear Admiral Amoama has held several positions that have earned him this noteworthy title including the Military Assistant to the Chief of the Defence Staff and later the Commandant of the Ghana Armed Forces Command & Staff College.

Under his patronage, the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC) taking place 24-25 July 2019 at the Kempinski Gold Coast in Accra, Ghana will feature a 2-day strategic gathering of global maritime leaders and Africa’s Chiefs of Naval Staff as they commemorate Ghana’s 60 years of Naval excellence.

The event will focus on the increasingly volatile maritime threats of the region and the collective strategies and resources necessary to combat them.

Coastal landscape at Senya Beraku, Ghana Central Region
Coastal landscape at Senya Beraku, Ghana Central Region

Q: Please tell us about yourself, your current role as the commander of Ghana Navy, and what are the key mandates of the Ghanaian Naval Force?

RADM Amoama: I am the 17th chief of the Naval staff and today I’m excited and feel highly honoured to lead and represent the Ghana Navy as it celebrates 60 years of the Naval excellence. As chief of the naval staff I’m responsible to the chief of staff through the minister of defence to the commander in chief, the President of the republic, for the overall command and control of the Ghana Navy. As well as proving strategic leadership, direction and guidance to the Ghana Navy. In addition, I’m also responsible for the formation of operational, administrative logistics, technical training and welfare policies for the guidance of personnel of the Ghana Navy.

I’m also responsible for strategic planning for the future development and expansion of the navy including new acquisitions. The Mandate of the Navy as it was when it was established and still today, is to protect and defend the maritime territorial integrity of Ghana from any form of aggression and maintain total freedom at the sea. Which is critical for Ghana’s maritime security and economic prosperity especially in the era of the blue economy. In summary the navy’s mandate is in 3 areas;

  1. War fighting role in defence of the maritime frontage of Ghana.
  2. Policing and enforcing roles to curb ocean crimes.
  3. Diplomatic roles to show the flag of Ghana to the international community in the same area we are also undertaking search and rescue operations and non-combat evacuation of Ghanaian nationals who are held in various situations in other countries.
Passing Out parade of recruits graduated after undergoing six months of extensive standard military and basic leadership training, at the Navy Recruits Training School (NRTS), Nuterkpor Sogakope, in the Volta Region (photo Ghana Navy)
Passing Out parade of recruits graduated after undergoing six months of extensive standard military and basic leadership training, at the Navy Recruits Training School (NRTS), Nuterkpor Sogakope, in the Volta Region (photo Ghana Navy)

Q: What are you most looking forward to with the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC), what is the added value brought by IMDEC specifically?

RADM Amoama: 60 years in any life of any organization is a key milestone worth celebrating in a grand style. We in the navy consider our 60 years anniversary as a new beginning. We want to use the occasion diamond jubilee to highlight the major contributions that the Navy has played in the development of the Nation for the past 60 years. In the past the Ghana navy has been hosting the conference on Coastal and Maritime Severance Africa (CAMSA) Exhibition and Conference as part of the new beginning. We are in partnership with Great Minds Events Management who are organizing the International Maritime defence Exhibition and Conference in Accra Ghana from the 23rd – 25th July 2019.

At this conference we expect a congregation of large numbers of maritime stakeholders both local and international as well as chiefs of the navy’s sub- region and from other international countries to come and discuss principle issues facing the maritime security of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. At the conference we hope to be discussing and having a conversation about modern technical innovations and cabbing the illegal unregulated, unreported fishing which is dominating our maritime domain. We hope to have a conversation on information sharing and capacity building. we will also talk about cyber and electronic warfare. We have the opportunity for participants and attendees to visit the stands and exhibitions put in place by major defence and maritime industry to showcase modern and advanced technology in maritime severance defence command and control and a whole lot of technology to be displayed during this conference.

RADM Seth Amoama, with part of his staff. (photo Ghana Navy)
RADM Seth Amoama, with part of his staff. (photo Ghana Navy)

Q: A key focus of the event is to enhance maritime security and stability within the Gulf of Guinea. What are the key initiatives, exercises and/or programs in the region that you believe are best aiding maritime security?

RADM Amoama: The Key Initiative in the entire Gulf of Guinea region that will address the maritime security issues is the Yawonde Code of conduct and its related cores integrated maritime strategy. As we know the Gulf of Guinea is rich in many resources, hydrocarbon, various species of fish and mineral resources. Which will help to uplift the social economic development of the sub-region.

  1. Piracy
  2. Armed Robbery
  3. Illegal unregulated and unreported fishing
  4. Illegal smuggling of fuel
  5. Drugs and a whole lot of maritime crimes.

These crimes are trans-national in nature and no country has found a way to fight them. So, the Yawonde code of conduct and Ecowas maritime integrated strategies do is to pull the resources of these nations in a coordinated manner, share information, conduct preparations in a conducted fashion so that we can address the challenge of the Gulf of Guinea.

There is the annual exercise OBANGAMI Express which is led by the USA Army which brings all navies together. The 10th Alteration of the exercise will be held in March 2020. And I am pleased to announce that Ghana has graciously offered to host the next exercise OBANGAMI Express in Accra. There are other initiatives by the French Navy that brings the navies together we have collaborated with partners from Germany, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian and the Spanish Navy. These are a lot of initiatives in the sub region to curb the increasing maritime crimes or threats.

Q: How do you foresee the region’s nations working together to curb illegal activity on   the Gulf of Guinea? What are some of the challenges and requirements to improve regional coordination in the maritime domain?

RADM Amoama: There are challenges, host countries in the sub region have no level of maritime domain awareness. There are also weak legal and judicial systems to prosecute criminals that are arrested, weak infrastructure and funding. As the population in the countries of West Africa begin to be sensitized to see the importance of the sea and resources they have, maybe more resources will be channelled to resourcing the maritime security agencies then we can see an improvement in the level of coordination and operations in the navy and sub region.

 The Ghanaian Navy Balsam-class buoy tender ship GNS Bonsu moors at port in Tema, Ghana. The ship is a former U.S. Coast Guard ship (photo US Navy)
The Ghanaian Navy Balsam-class buoy tender ship GNS Bonsu moors at port in Tema, Ghana. The ship is a former U.S. Coast Guard ship (photo US Navy)

Q: Define the increasing importance of interagency (including navies, coast guards, marine police, customs and ports) collaboration in securing regional seas? How has Ghana Navy spearheaded these joint operations within Ghana’s EEZ?

RADM Amoama: The Implementation of the ECOWAS Integrated maritime strategy holds the key to a source of any initiative or effort to curb the illegalities at the see. In 2015 the pilot zone was operationalized with the Head Quarters in Benin and that has Nigeria Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso. Currently they have established headquarters for zone F in Ghana which is yet to be operationalized with the deployment of international offices from the navies of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso does not have a navy, but they are providing an asset in support of the operations. The last zone in the ECOWAS sub-region is zone E which is being established in Cape Verde, it will include Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Cape Verde. When all these 3 zones are operationalized then the region will be able to coordinate very well through information sharing and coordinated operations.

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(Artigo publicado na língua original, no âmbito da parceria entre a Revista de Marinha e a IMDEC 2019, Conferência e Feira Internacional de Defesa da África Ocidental)

Mariam Mikhail

Head of PR & Communications at Great Minds Group (Events - PR - Marketing & Media Productions)