An urgent international conference will soon be held on West African piracy. The Nigerian Navy Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral DJ Ezeoba, has recently called on regional military officials to convene to discuss possible solutions to the growing problem.
The Gulf of Guinea is currently one of the most unsafe routes for shipping vessels to travel across, which is damaging to the international economy. The region is a huge producer of oil, cocoa and precious metals that are shipped worldwide. For the first time in many years, the number of pirate attacks in Western Africa has actually surpassed those of Eastern Africa.
Because a large percentage of attacks occur in Nigerian waters, the regional power has taken the initiative. Nigeria has created “Offshore Patrol Vessels Africa”, a summit which will take place on August 27th through 29th 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria.
Continental interests such as Ghana, South Africa, Djibouti and Tanzania will be in attendance. They will be joined by advisors from Germany, Malaysia, the United States and Spain, who will impart counter-piracy knowledge on the attendees through a series of lectures.
The Chief of Policy and Plans for the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral E.O. Ogbor spoke about the importance of the conference: “Undoubtedly, many littoral African countries have considerable oil and gas reserves, bountiful fisheries and viable Sea Lanes of Communication. Despite this, we can all agree that maritime insecurity and illegal activities at sea threaten to undermine the great potential of this continent and therefore no time can be spared in discussing and implementing decisive solutions to our common problems.”
The United States-based piracy watchdog organization Oceans Beyond Piracy estimates that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea specifically cost the world economy between $740 million and $950 million last year, and will only get more expensive in 2013.
At a recent news conference, the head of the Economic Community of Central African States, President Idriss Deby of Ghana, said that. “No country can withstand the growing challenges individually. That is why we agreed to put our efforts together to end the illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea”
The process has so far been slow moving, but with the growing international attention and nascent multilateral cooperation between nations in the region, a solution may soon be on the way.