BENIN SIGNS CONTRACT TO DIGITIZE AND SAFEGUARD ITS COASTLINE
The government of Benin has awarded a contract to Norwegian technology company Vissim to deliver a coastal monitoring system designed for improved environmental monitoring and safer passage along Benin’s coastline and ocean area. The ultimate objective is to increase international trade with Benin. The contract is funded by Export Finance Norway.
The contract was signed at a ceremony in Cotonou, Benin, by Minister of Defence, Fortunet Alain Nouatin, on behalf of Benin’s government, and Per Henæs, CEO of Vissim. Benin’s Minister of Finance, Romuald Wadagni, has further signed both the purchase contract with Vissim and the financing agreement with Export Finance Norway.
“For us, this system means that it will be easier to conduct safe trade with Benin, with the positive social development it entails. In addition, we create fertile ground for new investments that are conditional on a safe coastline and ocean areas, such as tourism and energy infrastructure. We also appreciate that Export Finance Norway offers competitive financing to facilitate our technology purchase from Vissim,” says Romuald Wadagni, Benin’s Minister of Finance.
Vissim is a software developer and turnkey sensor and infrastructure provider for advanced marine optimisation systems around the globe. The company is headquartered in Horten, Norway.
“We will essentially digitize the coastline and ocean area offshore Benin, plus the country’s busiest port. This enables the authorities to enhance protection of the local environment, combat illegal fishing, improve maritime safety, optimize port efficiency, and thereby contribute towards lower greenhouse gas emissions from shipping,” says Per Henæs, CEO of Vissim.
24/7 operating window
The core of Vissim’s technology is a specially designed software platform which through input from millions of data points creates situational awareness of the geographical area and increases understanding of maritime safety, security and efficiency. Vissim has delivered similar systems to authorities in Thailand and Egypt, plus to numerous offshore wind farms all over the world.
The system provides a real time overview of marine traffic and factors affecting it, such as weather, wind, wave height, tidal conditions and more. It also integrates data from CCTV-cameras, the automatic vessel identification system (AIS), weather stations, VHF radio traffic, and drones. The system, including all sensors, will be operational in all weather conditions, around the clock.
“Our software takes all this data and converts it via machine learning to an easy-to-understand overview that is displayed on large screens. Both the ministries of environment, fisheries, customs, coast guard, harbour authorities and police authorities can benefit from the solution,” says Per Henæs.
Henæs refers to that the ministry of environment can utilize the system to monitor and prevent oil spills and illegal sewage discharge from vessels, while the ministry of fisheries can detect and prevent illegal fishing. Customs can check that vessels arriving in Benin are cleared and thereby prevent smuggling. Harbour authorities can ensure safer entry and departure and more efficient port logistics. The police can utilize the system to prevent piracy, which can be a problem for vessels that are moored in the Gulf of Guinea.
Sensor sites and control room
Vissim’s scope of work includes delivery of four sensor sites along Benin’s coastline. Each of the coastal monitoring base stations will be equipped with CCTV, radars and technology that can detect oil spills. The equipment will cover the entire coastline and up to 25 nautical miles offshore. The company will also supply drones that are equipped with advanced cameras.
Vissim will also deliver infrastructure such as servers and large screens to a 500 square metre control room that is located in Cotonou, which is Benin’s largest port and the country’s economic capital.
According to the contract, all equipment should be installed and operational within 15 months after contract signing, meaning by April 2023.
“It has taken three years to get this project in place. This is quite fast compared to other countries. I would like to praise Beninese authorities for being decision-oriented and securing solid progress during a challenging global pandemic,” says Per Henæs.
Vissim will establish a local company in Benin in order to provide the best possible operational support to Beninese authorities. The company will employ 4-5 IT employees that are specialists in Vissim’s technologies and systems.
Financed by Export Finance Norway
Vissim’s contract value is approximately 12.5 million Euros. In addition, Vissim commits to providing at least five years’ user support for a fixed annual fee, which comes in addition to the contract value.
Beninese authorities finance the equipment purchase through an export loan issued by Export Finance Norway. The issued loan is at 85 percent of contract value with ten years maturity.
“Being able to offer our customer a competitive financing solution through Export Finance Norway is a great example of how Norwegian businesses can utilise policy instruments to secure export of Norwegian technology,” says Vissim’s Per Henæs.
Export Finance Norway can provide government loans and guarantees that promote specific sales contracts abroad, export-promoting investments in Norway, or other types of transactions that contribute to Norwegian value creation and employment.
“We are delighted to contribute towards Benin securing its coastal monitoring system from Norwegian technology company Vissim,” says Tone Lunde Bakker, CEO of Export Finance Norway. “Environmental monitoring and safer passage along the coastline are positive and can open up further trade opportunities for the country. We also congratulate Vissim with a contract that can open up new business prospects”.
The contract between Vissim and Beninese authorities includes options to further expand their cooperation and the coastal monitoring system. For example, there is a contract option to install transponders on 800 Beninese fishing vessels as part of the efforts to prevent illegal fishing from foreign fishing vessels up to 25 nautical miles offshore.
Source & photo : Vissim