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Sep 12, 2023


By Nicholas Tomb

At the culmination of the African Heads of State conference in Washington, D.C. in August 2014, the President announced the creation of the Security Governance Initiative (SGI). SGI focused on six African partner nations, including the Republic of Ghana. Bilateral engagements with Ghanaian officials in 2014-2016 culminated in the development of a Joint Country Action Plan (JCAP). The JCAP identified three focus areas of partnership. Focus Area 1 articulated a desired end state in which Ghana is better positioned to identify, mitigate, and respond to maritime threats, as well ensure economic sustainability and development in its waters, by developing and employing a whole-of-government National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS). 

Over a two-year timespan, 2017 – 2019, ISG conducted a series of ten engagements with the Government of Ghana’s interagency Maritime Security Technical Working Group (MSTWG) to draft the NIMS. This process was tremendously complex and involved convening multiple maritime stakeholders vying for responsibility and limited resources. Given the ambiguity around the approval of the NIMS, ISG and the MSTWG concluded that the strategy would only be executed if stakeholders were specifically directed to implement it by the highest levels of government—specifically, by the president of the republic. At the conclusion of the program, the MSTWG sent the final draft strategy to the Ministers of National Security and Transportation for submission to the presidential cabinet. 

Shortly after submission, the world was gripped with the COVID-19 pandemic, and business as usual ceased. Periodic, informal check-ins over the next three years resulted in no new information about the status of the NIMS. It seemed to have completely disappeared. Suddenly (and apparently unbeknownst to the MSTWG members), in his keynote address at the National Blue Economy Summit on June 1, 2023, President Akufo-Addo unexpectedly referenced the NIMS and noted that the government would soon be implementing the new maritime strategy.  This brought the NIMS back to life. The MSTWG focal point and other key stakeholders started conducting a series of press conferences and interviews on major Ghanaian news outlets to promote the strategy. On August 29, 2023, President Akufo-Addo presided over the official launch of the NIMS at the Burma Camp military base in Accra. 

Upon implementation, it is envisioned that the NIMS will coordinate efforts to promote maritime security, economic development, and environmental protection. It includes a funding mechanism (drawing funds from the Ghana Maritime Authority, Ports and Harbours Authority, and National Petroleum Corporation) to fund a secretariate to oversee implementation. ISG and the MSTWG drafted the associated Strategic Communications Plan and Strategic Implementation Framework back in 2019, but these documents could be revisited and revised as a next step. 

ISG project lead Nick Tomb expressed deep satisfaction with the signing of the NIMS. He noted that it will empower Ghana to take a strategic, comprehensive approach to challenges and opportunities in its maritime domain, and positions Ghana as a model to other countries in the region. ISG Institutional Capacity Building success stories like this demonstrate how the investment of time, a tailored approach, and the development of long-term relationships, support outcomes that enable partners to own the approach and develop institutional capabilities and shared U.S. objectives.