Curbing maritime piracy in Africa

Economic and political instability contributing to piracy in region.

Curbing the excesses of maritime piracy in Africa


It may be reasonable to assume that piracy has existed for as long as the oceans were plied for commerce. For some decades, the trend in piracy has been observed to be cyclic in nature with its peak occurring when there is global economic recession in which the perpetrators of this heinous crime enter the sea to steal. It is on land pirates plan, thereafter undertake acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Accordingly, when there is economic recession and political instability on land, pirates turn to the sea for survival. This situation is reversed when the nation’s economy is booming. This viewpoint is arguable but, reports on maritime piracy as they occur in various parts of the world and its deadly effect on shipping and ultimately national economies have been of grave concern to ship owners and governments. It has been observed that a number of geographic and economic characteristics of the classical world produced an environment practically necessitating piracy. However, piracy has become a threat to maritime security and global economy and this has compelled me to contribute to existing debates on piracy.

The re-emergence of global economic crisis in 2008 coupled with political instability in some parts of the World and indeed Africa, escalated piracy situations in the Horn of Africa off the Somali coast. Reports of Somali pirates seizing vessels and crew were not infrequent. Hostages were taken, while lives were lost. Additionally, hundreds of millions of dollars was paid out in ransom. Shipping was disrupted globally while the threat to safety and commercial shipping raised an alarm that drew an international response. By the end of 2011, about 3500 seafarers were held hostage for ransom, while their ships were hijacked by armed criminal gangs. Consequently, the Indian Ocean was ceded to pirates, while ships were diverted to other areas. This was confirmed by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre statistics which stated that piracy in the Gulf of Aden is diminishing with only 75 vessels reported attacked in 2012 compared to 237 ships in 2011. Accordingly, this accounted for 25 percent of incidents worldwide, while Somali hijackings dropped significantly from 28 in 2011 to 14 during the same period.

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