The Gulf of Guinea, a crucial transit area for international shipping, is also considered one of the world’s most dangerous waters. It has become the continent’s hotspot for piracy with warnings that the rate of attacks could double in 2014. This is according to a Maritime and Coastal Security Africa 2013 conference which ended on 26th Nov 2013.
Weak and bad governance, perilous legal frameworks and poor law enforcement in West Africa are some of the reasons that experts attribute as the root causes of piracy. However much of international attention is still focused on Somalia and the Horn of Africa on the East African coast.
It was also noted that the situation in both Horn of Africa and West African coast are different. In Somali, pirates are able to anchor their hijacked vessels along the Somali coastline and keep their crew in plain sight for long periods. The pirates are only interested in returning the hijacked vessel, its cargo and crew back to the shipping company in return for ransom. In West African Coastline, pirate attacks cannot take place in plain sight. The main driver of piracy in this area is the regional black market in oil, vessels are not captured, just the cargo is taken. Illegal oil buyers and arms traders make the region more dangerous for oil tankers and general cargo vessels.