Maritime piracy is not new; it has existed as long as people have traveled the oceans. African maritime security, in particular, has been severely impacted by theft and armed robbery.
But in stark contrast, maritime piracy in West Africa is on the rise again and is slowly becoming the world’s new piracy hotspot. In 2015, 54 incidents took place, 95 in 2016, 97 in 2017, and a worrying 112 in 2018.
This trend of piracy-related attacks in West African waters have continued even in the first quarter of 2019, especially in the Gulf of Guinea where political and economic instability is increasingly encouraging criminal groups to conduct violent attacks at sea. But what makes the waters of the Gulf of Guinea vulnerable to piracy?
Stretching from Senegal to Angola, the Gulf of Guinea covers over 6,000 kilometers of coastline and comprises of 20 coastal states, islands, and landlocked states. This sea basin is of geo-political and geo-economic importance for the transport of goods to and from central and southern Africa. Additionally, it is a chokepoint for African energy trade, with intensive oil extraction in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.