The Gulf of Guinea, new piracy center of gravity in Africa, is struggling to put in order of battle against this scourge, a year after the resolutions of a summit in Yaounde riparian countries with a poor student said on Nigeria.
Oil siphoning aboard hijacked cargo ships, illegal fishing, trafficking of all kinds: the coastal area extending from Senegal to Angola stole the show at the Gulf of Aden, where the phenomenon, a spectacular time has almost disappeared before the deployment of an international military armada.
In the first nine months of 2014, the Gulf of Guinea remained the African champion of piracy, with 33 recorded attacks – but down compared to the same period in 2013 (47) – against 10 off Somalia, according the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), number of cases not reported, however, passing through the cracks.
Pirates operating off Nigeria, Togo and Benin are generally well-armed and violent, says the BMI. Sometimes they divert ships for several days, the time to loot the bunkers, and brutalize the crews, less and less inclined to navigate these waters.
“In the Gulf of Guinea, the upsurge of piracy has reached alarming proportions,” acknowledged Monday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at the summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, highlighting corollaries phenomena of “drug trafficking, oil siphoning and human trafficking.”
Threatened in their reputation and economy – maritime revenues represent up to 20% of national budgets – the riparian states decided in June 2013 in Yaound√© to create an interregional coordination center against piracy and regional centers along the coast .dropoff window
“The 24 heads of state present in Yaounde did not come for walking. The action is there, we are no longer at the stage of incantations, “said Monday the Cameroonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo during a first Forum on Security in Africa held in Dakar.
The centers created since, however, still lack computers, imaging, national marine patrol boats and speedboats, and interregional dialogue and is not always the rendezvous. Marine, marine police and coast guard are also often looking china dogs.
– Political Connections –
“At the state level, you have a multitude of services that walk over it. Each agency is trying to have the prerogatives that do not even within its jurisdiction, “lamented the Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Navy, Admiral Bara Cissokho, to the same forum.
Riparian countries may have important border disputes, including control of offshore oil fields.
“How Ghana and Ivory Coast they may organize joint patrols if the delimitation of their border is not finalized? “Asks Bartholomew Bl√©d√©, maritime security researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) in Dakar.
“Also slow to draw and external assistance remains limited” financing laments Mr. Bl√©d√© also regretting the hostility of shipowners to new vessel fees.
For all the experts gathered in Dakar, Nigeria also remains a big downside, the bulk of the intervening attacks against its shores.
“The pirates are swarming all over the region come from a particular State and create branches in other states,” analyzes V√©ronique Roger-Lacan, Special Representative of France to the fight against maritime piracy.
The ramifications are sometimes unexpected.
“Since October, attacks in Nigerian waters suggest that piracy could be used to fund political activities. The attacks became more frequent and more violent with the approach of the presidential election in February 2015, “says Mr. Bl√©d√©.
In addition, the Gulf of Aden almost pass for a haven. “All the specialized services, however, say that from the moment where sea will withdraw, sponsors of piracy resume their activities,” warns Dr. Roger-Lacan.