West African Subregion Loses $2 Billion Annually to Maritime Attacks

Piracy is a major problem, as NewsBlaze often reports, thanks to ECOTERRA. The West African subregion loses $2 billion annually to maritime attacks, according to Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN.

On her remarks at a Security Council Debate On Piracy and Maritime Armed Robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, Ms. Rice said that the impact of maritime crime on local economies is staggering.

She cites that loses of West African subregion due to prevailing piracy in Gulf of Guinea is a high price for a region with extensive development needs and already fragile economies.

“Benin saw a 70-percent decrease in the number of ships entering the port of Cotonou, following its designation as a high risk by a maritime insurance company last August. And no price can be placed on the loss of life, as occured on February 13th when gunmen shot and killed the captain and chief engineer of a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria.” -Ms. Rice

Suspected pirates keep their hands in the air as directed by the guidedmissile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) as the visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) team prepares to apprehend them.

To address the problem of piracy in Gulf of Guniea, the U.S. government stresses that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea requires the strongest possible regional response, with international help.

Since 2007, the U.S. has provided approximately $35 million in assistance to regional states to build maritime security capacity, including coastal radars, equipment, boats, and associated training.

She stresses that the United States is committed to working with our African and other international partners through programs like the Africa Partnership Station and the Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership.

She notes that Obangame Express 2012- a regional Gulf of Guinea maritime exercise to help local forces improve their capabilities to counter illicit maritime activities will conclude in the coming days.

The exercise includes participation from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo, Benin, and Republic of Congo, as well as non-African partners.

“There can be no doubt that the situation has become more grave in Gulf of Guinea.” -Ms. Rice

She underlines that the primary responsibility for patrolling and securing offshore areas, of course, rests with the countries of the Gulf of Guinea.

She reiterates the Secretary General’s report that states, there is an urgent need for these countries to develop a comprehensive anti-piracy strategy for the entire region. No country has the capacity on its own to tackle maritime crime.

“Gulf of Guinea countries need to continue developing regional coordination mechanisms to address the lack of a collective surveillance system; the lack of a joint monitoring and patrolling arrangement; the absence of a sustainable process for equipping, funding and maintaining maritime infrastructure; the lack of a formalized information-gathering and exchange system; and inadequate legal frameworks.” -Ms. Rice

She also highlighted the need to address corruption and strengthen law enforcement capabilities which also cannot be overstated.

She stresses that piracy and maritime armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea have threatened the economies, governments and people of the region for far too long.

“National and regional political will, with the support of the international community, will be critical to long-term success in reversing this threat.” -Ms. Rice

On February 2009, the United States and other international partners pledged to help African governments confront piracy and improve maritime security on two coasts of Africa.

While the waters off the coast of Somalia rank number 1 in the world for piracy and armed robbery at sea and the Gulf of Guinea on Africa’s west coast ranks closely behind in the number 2 spot, the two regions have different scenarios and different types of crime.

U.S. maritime engagement with West Africa recently has increased, particularly through the African Partnership Station (APS) initiative, which has provided a platform for both military and nonmilitary cooperative activities that relate to African coastal security.

APS is an international initiative developed by the United States Navy, which aims to work cooperatively with U.S. and international partners to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

ECOTERRA Intl., an NGO, is the Global Society for ECOlogy and sound ECOnomy, an independent, international civil society organisation, that often sends piracy-related reports to NewsBlaze.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.