Maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea – and elsewhere in Africa – is often reduced to piracy and armed robbery at sea. During this year’s Danish Maritime Days, a one-day seminar was organised to address this problem and to broaden the view on security issues in the maritime environment. It served as a reminder that the threats to shipping are highly diverse and can only be addressed in a concerted effort between governments, security agencies and the private sector.
During the seminar Beyond Piracy on 2 May, I had the opportunity to introduce the participants to the threats maritime operators have to face in the Gulf of Guinea. While there are a number of challenges, these should be properly analysed to ensure that the threat level in specific areas is not exaggerated.
Merely counting the number of incidents is not enough because these may range from petty theft to violent kidnappings of crew members. Moreover, some areas are more dangerous than others and even Nigeria offers different challenges in different parts of the country. At the same time, media reports are often painting the whole region with a very broad brush, creating a distorted view of the actual threat picture.