Maritime Security

Although the sea is a source of great wealth for Africa, piracy, narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, and other transnational threats present a significant threat to the continent’s security, jobs, food supply, and trade. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies has compiled a collection of analyses, research, and lectures that present challenges of and methods for securing the maritime domain.


Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean Attacks Expose Africa’s Maritime Vulnerability

By Francois Vreÿ and Mark Blaine
April 9, 2024

Missile and armed drone strikes by Houthi militias and hijackings by Somali pirates have destabilized maritime shipping from the Red Sea to the Western Indian Ocean, impacting security and trade for all of Africa.


Ten Years of the Yaoundé Protocol: Reflections on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea

June 14, 2023

The Yaoundé Protocol has driven a decline in West and Central African piracy and charted a course for what transnational security collaboration can accomplish around the continent.

Cargo Ships at Takoradi Harbour


National Maritime Security Strategy Toolkit

June 29, 2020

This document is intended as a planning toolkit for policymakers and practitioners as they navigate the process of developing maritime national security strategies in Africa. Compiled by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in 2016, the toolkit reflects the contributions and experiences of dozens of African maritime security professionals who have undertaken maritime security strategy planning processes.


Trends in African Maritime Security

March 15, 2019

Africa's rapidly evolving maritime security environment has prompted innovations in Africa's maritime security architecture, leading to greater regional coordination.

A seized Iranian dhow in the Seychelles


Innovating Security Solutions on the Seas in the Seychelles

May 25, 2018

The Seychelles’ environmental, economic, and security plans include unique reforms and innovative partnerships generate benefits that reach well beyond its shores.

An Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique boarding team member searches a simulated illegal fisherman during Exercise Cutlass Express 2013. (Photo: US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson.)


Criminality in Africa’s Fishing Industry: A Threat to Human Security

By André Standing
June 6, 2017

Conflicts of interest within Africa's fisheries sector enable unsustainable exploitation by foreign fishing firms and undercut the political will needed to build more robust surveillance and prosecutorial capacity.

A dhow in the Indian Ocean


Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean: A Discussion with Assis Malaquias

May 26, 2017

The Indian Ocean is a vital conduit for trade. It's also a domain where security threats, including piracy, trafficking, and illegal fishing, thrive. Former Africa Center professor Assis Malaquias reflects on its relevance to national security in Africa.

A member of the Ghanaian maritime police looks at a suspected illicit fishing vessel prior to boarding. [Photo: U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa]


Maritime Safety and Security: Crucial for Africa’s Strategic Future

March 4, 2016

Maritime access gives Africa a major strategic advantage. Yet none of its 38 coastal states can fully claim sovereignty over territorial waters.

Gabon Navy


Combating Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

By Adeniyi Adejimi Osinowo
February 28, 2015

Stronger national, regional, and international political commitments are needed to reverse the worsening trend of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

Lance Cpl. Hilary M. Leon, Seychelles Coast Guard radio operator


Investing in Science and Technology to Meet Africa’s Maritime Security Challenges

By Augustus Vogel
February 28, 2011

A growing number of Africa’s security challenges—narcotics trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, and armed robberies, among others—take place at sea. Illicit actors exploit Africa’s maritime space given its expansiveness and the limited number of vessels African governments can field to interdict this activity. Technology can dramatically improve Africa’s maritime security coverage. However, to do so will require engaging Africa’s scientists who can guide and sustain these efforts. This will yield not only security but environmental and meteorological benefits for the continent.

Navies versus Coast Guards: Defining the Roles of African Maritime Security Forces


Navies versus Coast Guards: Defining the Roles of African Maritime Security Forces

By Augustus Vogel
December 31, 2009

African states’ maritime security structures are often misaligned with the challenges posed and need coast guard capabilities and an array of intra-governmental partnerships.