The African Union recently announced its intention to develop an African naval force, which would fight illegal fishing, piracy and environmental problems in Africa's collective exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In an e-mail interview, Johan Potgieter, a retired captain in the South African navy and a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in South African, discussed the AU's proposed naval force.
WPR: What need does this proposal respond to?
Johan Potgieter: Thirty-nine of the 54 countries in Africa are either coastal states or islands, with another five situated on the vast Great Lakes of central Africa. As a consequence, Africa's fishing grounds -- a vital source of protein for about 70 percent of Africa's population -- have a huge influence on the continent's human security.