Organised every two years at the end of the biennial cycle, the GI WACAF regional conference forms an integral part of the management of the GI WACAF Project. This event, which is usually held as a four-day conference, was exceptionally being held virtually in this instance due to the ongoing travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GI WACAF end of 2020-2021 biennium webinar took place remotely on Wednesday, 1st December, from 8:45 to 12:15 GMT. The main objectives of this online event were to:
- Review the progress achieved since the last regional conference;
- Share highlights from recent activities, as well as relevant technical information related to oil spill preparedness and response; and
- Identify priority actions for 2022 for continued enhancement of oil spill preparedness and response in West, Central and Southern Africa.
Zoom was used as the teleconference platform, with simultaneous interpretation (English – French – Portuguese). The webinar brought together key industry and government representatives from 13 of the 22 African partner countries of the GI WACAF Project, namely Angola, Cabo Verde, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Togo. Around 67 participants attended the GI WACAF end of 2020-2021 biennium webinar.
Patricia Charlebois, Marine Environment Division Deputy Director at IMO, and Anatole Cramer, Industry Chair of the GI WACAF Project, gave a welcoming address, pointing out how the GI WACAF Project has been adapting its programme to continue to provide support through the organization of a series of trainings and webinars, to ensure the momentum of the Project in supporting preparedness efforts in the member countries was not lost. Then Lindsay Page-Jones, GI WACAF Project Manager, reviewed the Project's achievements during the last biennium. During the next section about 2020-2021 highlights, Wandifa Saidyleigh, from The Gambia Maritime Administration, presented the outcome of the remote legal assistance on the effective implementation of IMO conventions relating to oil pollution and liability and compensation while Jean Marie Bope Bope Lapwong, from the DRC Marine pollution control & monitoring office, presented the launch of a study on the development of a sub-regional agreement for oil spill preparedness and response in Central Africa.
The third section of the webinar was then dedicated to technical topics and latest developments, with presentations on the low sulphur fuel oils behaviour (by Thomas Sturgeon from ITOPF), Woodside's SANGOMAR project in Senegal (by Chris Bourne) and online education tools (by Julke Brandt, Marine Environment Division Technical Officer at IMO, and Chloé Gondo, GI WACAF Project Coordinator).
The event ended with a presentation on the 2022 way ahead and announcement of the postponement of the 9th GI WACAF regional conference, as well as an interactive session on country profile updates, action plans and priorities for 2022.