Battle against piracy in West Africa continues


“We’ve come a very long way. We’ve got deep coalitions where non-government organisations, states, navies, customs, everybody works together on what is a scourge of the seas,” Professor Renfrew Christie, Dean of Research at the University of Western Cape told CNBC Africa.

This year, there have been over 360 attacks on merchant shipping already and experts believe this could go up to 700 next year if governments don’t take any action.

“Once everybody realised it was a major problem costing tens of billions of dollars, per year, everybody got together and the number of hijackings of big ships on Somali waters has gone down even though it’s still a problem but mainly for little ships,” he explained.


As 95 per cent of the world trade goes by sea, the need to combat this problem is extremely critical and the conference showed that deep coalitions will be needed to do this in Africa.

“Once you strengthen the international response, you could get the statistics to come down.”

While the developments on the East Africacan coast is improving without doubt, it is not the case with West Africa as the scourge of violence is increasing on the Gulf of Guinea.

“Pirates are like crooks on land, they go where the police are not. So they’ve gone round Africa, and there it’s much more about oil.

“Something like a third of Nigeria’s oil is stolen on land, usually on the coast or at sea, it’s called bunkering, they find ways to transfer the oil into other bunkers, and there is an uptick in piracy in West Africa,” he added.

Despite the huge challenges facing the coast, Christie believes that strides are being made as the African Union have a long term plan that requires the sub-regions to have their strategic plans in order to curb piracy.