Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea costs regional countriesan annual 2 billion U. S. dollars, posing an increasing threat in the oil-rich region inWest Africa, according to an expert of the Yaounde-II University in Cameroon.
“Maritime piracy has already caused reduced visits to the ports in the zone,” said Prof.Joseph Vincent Ntuda Ebode.
He was speaking on Monday at an international symposium held in the Camerooniancapital Yaounde in the run-up to a Central and West African summit to discussmaritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
In the case of Benin, whose economy is strongly dependent on the Cotonou port andwhose port activities contribute almost 70 percent to the GDP, or 7.5 billion dollars, theearnings have seen a drastic drop due to piracy.
Nigeria, the top producer of crude oil in sub-Saharan Africa with an estimated output of2 million barrels per day, has lost close to 7 percent of its oil revenues to pirates armedwith sophisticated means.
Ebode said maritime piracy had resulted in higher insurance costs for cargotransporters, forcing them to employ heavy security detail or use longer routes to avoidthe pirates.
However, it is the regional countries that are paying a heavy price to maritime piracy.
Because of their inability to control their territorial waters or monitor the activities of therebel groups, some states are threatened with political instability.
The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Nigeria, for example,has increased attacks and abductions to press oil companies and the government tomeet their demands.
The Gulf of Guinea region produces close to 40 percent of the oil consumed in Europeand 29 percent in the United States.
This, according to Ebode, ha led to strong militarization of the region by foreign forces,especially the U.S., which has signed agreements with Cameroon, Gabon andEquatorial Guinea for any eventual use of their airports by U.S. forces.