JOHANNESBURG ‚Äì Piracy off the West African coastline has escalated dramatically in the past year, costing the shipping and offshore industry $1.2 billion, says Maritime and Coastal Security Africa.
The organisation says this year 851 seafarers have been attacked and pirates are currently holding 589 hostages.
It further reports that piracy off the Horn of Africa costs the industry between $7 billion and $12 billion each year, while illegal fishing off the African coastline costs the industry $1 billion a year.
An estimated 600 maritime and naval experts will meet in Cape Town from 25 to 27 November to focus on institutional and technical solutions to piracy during the annual Maritime and Coastal Security Africa conference and exhibition.
Leading military suppliers will display their technology and services at the event.
Event producer Tracey-Lee Zurcher says that South Africa and its maritime neighbours are actively setting out acquisition requirements to procure inshore and offshore patrol vessels, which are the most cost-effective patrol solutions and are easier to navigate in shallow waters when pursuing high-speed targets in an asymmetrical warfare scenario, such as piracy.
‚ÄúSecure ports and trade lanes are quintessential to the development of African economies as 90 percent of trade in and around Africa is seaborne.‚Äù
Reuters reports that¬†attacks off Nigeria‚Äôs coast have jumped by a third this year¬†with ships passing through West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities hub, increasingly under threat from gangs wanting to snatch cargoes and crews.
‚ÄúPirates, often heavily armed and violent, are targeting vessels and their crews along the (Nigerian) coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters. In many cases, they ransack the vessels and steal the cargo, usually gas oil,‚Äù the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported.
Countries on the Gulf of Guinea, including Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, are major sources of oil and cocoa and increasingly metals for world markets.