By ANGELA CHISHIMBA
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and European Union (EU) have signed an agreement involving 5.4 million euros (over K40 million) for the implementation of a regional maritime security programme.
Signing on behalf of the EU, head of delegation Gilles Hervio said the programme, launched in Lusaka yesterday, was part of a 37.5 million euro (K300 million) regional programme to protect lives, economic development and trade.
Mr Hervio said the programme would be implemented by COMESA in co-operation with Interpol.
The purpose of the programme is to prevent money laundering by establishing sound laws, regulations and policies. It will also contribute to building capacity of Government and financial institutions in the region to co-ordinate, exchange information, analyse, detect and track financial flows linked to piracy, and investigate and prosecute financial crimes.
â€œWe are very proud to support the commitment of COMESA towards the fight against maritime piracy and the illicit flow of funds coming from piracy,â€ Mr Hervio said.
He said some COMESA member states have been affected by piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Hervio said over the years, combating maritime insecurity has been a priority for the EU.
â€œMaritime piracy affects us all, whether in a land-locked country such as Zambia or in a boat sailing across the oceans. The primary motive of maritime piracy is material gain, whether derived from stolen cargo or ransom,â€ he said.
He said 90 percent of the Eastern and Southern Africa regional trade by volume is transported by sea.
Mr Hervio said high risk of piracy leads to disruption of trade routes, creating higher transport costs, higher insurance costs and increased prices.
And COMESA Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya said COMESAâ€™s interest in the programme was motivated by the rising transport, trade and insurance costs, which affect regional integration by undermining development efforts.
He said piracy is recognised as an international problem that requires comprehensive multilateral solution.
By ANGELA CHISHIMBA