The Republic of Korea has expressed concern over security issues in the Gulf of Guinea.
The country’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Choi Jong Kun, said maritime safety in the region “is a very important issue to us.”
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The Gulf of Guinea is home to 4.5 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 2.7 per cent of proven natural gas reserves. It also has one of the world’s richest fishing grounds and represents almost 4 per cent of global fish production.
However, maritime insecurity in the region is alarming. According to the International Maritime Bureau, the number of kidnappings at sea reported in the region increased by 40 per cent between 2019 and 2020, with the Gulf accounting for approximately 95 per cent of global kidnappings.
The Gulf of Guinea has therefore overtaken the Gulf of Aden and Somalia as the leading global piracy hotspot. In 2019, 111 acts of piracy were counted, compared to 25 in the Indian Ocean.
“I met the (Nigerian) transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi and he informed me of what the Nigerian government is doing to ensure maritime security. Transnational security is a very important issue to us, especially safety in the Gulf of Guinea,” Kun said on Thursday while briefing journalists in Abuja on the outcome of his visit to Nigeria.
During a meeting with Kun earlier in the day, Nigerian Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, said Nigeria has had a fair share of global terrorism, especially in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin as well as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Dada said though the challenges were compounding, Nigerian security forces, in partnership with regional and international partners, were resolutely committed to containing them.
Meanwhile, Dada stated that the visit of the Korean minister was timely and would enable Nigeria and South Korea to explore more areas of friendship that would be beneficial to both countries.
He expressed optimism that the sixth session of the Nigeria-South Korea Joint Commission in Seoul, in October 2021 would open up a new chapter in the cooperation between both countries.
On his part, Kun expressed the belief that his visit would pave the way for more collaboration with Nigeria in the post-COVID-19 era.
He also disclosed that his country would be hosting the Korea-Africa forum in December 2021.
He said during the forum, there would be discussions and collaborations in many areas, including economy, trade and culture.
“We expect that the forum will boost the cooperation and knowledge sharing between Korea and Africa,” he added.