The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has presented two surveillance drones to the Ghana Boundary Commission (GBC) and the Ghana Navy to aid the two institutions to monitor the country's maritime boundaries.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in charge of Finance and Administration at the GNPC, Benjamin Kweku Acolatse, said the equipment, costing about $400,000, and the support to the commission had become necessary to scale up security in the country’s maritime domain.
The drones will assist the Ghana Navy in particular to detect and monitor vessels remotely.
They are also to assist in surveillance and the tracking of suspicious activities, as well as monitor remote offshore or isolated sites.
Each of the Delta Quad Surveillance drones is fitted with a GPS-controlled camera that allows for on-board recording.
Also, each has a flying time of 110 minutes, a wingspan of 235 centimetres and a wing area of 90 square metres.
At the presentation ceremony, the CEO of the GNPC, Opoku-Ahweneeh Danquah, in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Acolatse, indicated that Ghana’s national development leant very heavily on maritime activities, as well as the oil and gas sector.
“With over $8 billion worth of hydrocarbons produced over the past 12 years accruing to the Ghana group, there has always been the need to collaborate with stakeholders to secure this rich resource area which continues to generate income for our country,” Mr Danquah noted.
That, he pointed out, called for more collaboration with the Ghana Navy and other stakeholders, noting that the GNPC, realising that need, had been working actively with the Ghana Navy, the GBC, the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), among others, to manage and secure all activities within Ghana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) marine environment.
Such support to the GBC, especially, he pointed out, led to the historic success achieved in Ghana’s maritime boundary dispute case with Cote d’Ivoire.
“We, therefore, believe the drones will go a long way to assist the partners to monitor ‘Right of Way’ and ‘Secure’ zones, check the activities of trespassers and vandalism, as well as combat illegal debunkering, theft and piracy,” Mr Danquah stressed.
The GNPC, he said, would continue to work with the stakeholder agencies to advance their common goal of having a safe and secure maritime space in which to operate.
“We also believe these drones will be very useful in protecting the marine ecosystem, since drones have proved to be cost-efficient, accurate, effective and reliable in safeguarding installations and maintaining security,” the CEO said.
The National Coordinator of the GBC, Major General Dr Emmanuel Kotia, in his remarks, said the commission was mandated by law to undertake negotiations to determine land boundaries with neighbouring countries and also delimit maritime boundaries in accordance with the principles of international law.
The drones would, therefore, assist both the commission and the Ghana Navy to undertake their key mandate of ensuring that the country’s maritime boundaries were secure at all times, he said.
While commending the GNPC for the gesture, Maj. Gen. Kotia noted that the establishment of a Drones Unit by the Ghana Navy would enhance collaborations to ensure that there were no problems as far as the country’s land and maritime boundaries were concerned.
Fighting maritime crime
The Flag Officer Commanding of the Eastern Naval Base, Commodore Emmanuel Ayensu Kwafo, indicated that crimes such as piracy and illegal and unreported fishing had assumed a transnational nature and as such undertaking surveillance of the country’s maritime domain was imperative.
He described the donation as timely, as it would go a long way to assist the Ghana Navy in its effort to modernise and enhance the gains made in ensuring improved security within Ghanaian waters.