Whose security is it? Elitism and the global approach to maritime security in Africa

Ife Okafor-Yarwood*, Freedom C. Onuoha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Africa’s marine environment and resources that lie beneath it are central to the continent’s sustainable development and actualising the ambitions set out by the African Union in its Agenda 2063, where the oceans are described as the frontier of Africa’s development. The continent’s maritime domain and resources are also attractive to foreign partners relying on its oceans to enhance their economic development and geostrategic interests. Serving the interests of all parties, especially the 38 coastal states and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and land-linked countries on the continent that benefit from the maritime sector, comes with challenges, some of which manifest as threats to the sustainable resource extraction and safety of those that use the maritime domain. We explored the literature, policy documents and maritime security reports database, together with our experiences as African maritime governance and security experts, to critically examine maritime security in Africa and unravel how extra-regional actors have securitised maritime threats. We show how the selective framing of what constitutes threats and associated resourcing of responses to counter them, often dictated by foreign interests, is an elite project that undermines a holistic notion of maritime security that would benefit the African people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-966
Number of pages21
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number5
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Maritime security
  • Elitism
  • Securitisation
  • Gulf of Guinea
  • Gulf of Aden


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