In East Africa, rates of piracy are falling thanks to greater coordination between naval forces, but in West African waters there have been three attacks in the last two weeks, a development described by the International Maritime Bureau as alarming.
Piracy Spreads Off West Africa
Piracy along Africa’s Atlantic coast is threatening to raise costs for the vast amount of seaborne trade that passes through the region, as the activity spreads from Nigeria into the poorly-patrolled seas of nearby Togo and Benin.
Pirates are expanding into Togo and Benin faster than Nigeria’s navy can commission new gunboats and ramp up cross-border exercises. In East Africa, rates of piracy are falling thanks to greater coordination between naval forces, but in West African waters there have been three attacks in the last two weeks, a development described by the International Maritime Bureau as alarming. The IMB is a nonprofit organization focusing on crimes at sea and is part of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Off Nigeria’s 530 miles of coast, crossed by dozens of oil tankers each day, attacks so far this year have already nearly doubled to 21 from a total of 11 all of last year.
The IMB said one trend is clear: As Nigeria’s navy expands to confront hijackings and robberies, pirates are crossing into the less-patrolled waters of neighboring states, capitalizing on a burst of global sea trade with ports along West Africa’s coast. Some 41% of the world’s trade, worth $3.2 trillion a year, “touches Africa in some way,” according to an internal U.S. Navy policy document. That includes more than half the oil loaded onto ships the world over.
Coast guard officers on a patrol boat in the Nigerian port of Abidjan which earlier this year acquired two new boats to help deter potential threats by pirates.
Even before the recent escalation of piracy, Nigeria lost around……[access full article]
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