Increasing concerns about maritime security threats in the Gulf of Guinea have put pressure on governments across West and Central Africa in recent years. Nigeria in particular is often highlighted as the country that is home to most of these threats, particularly related to attacks against merchant ships at sea.
At the same time, Nigerian authorities have long been concerned about the theft of crude oil from pipelines in the Niger Delta or about smuggled fuel products, often produced in illegal refineries. Against this background, the Nigerian government decided to host a high-level maritime security conference in Abuja. The event was held from 7 to 9 October and will hopefully be a starting point for improvements in the fight against insecurity at sea across the region.
I was honoured to have been invited to Abuja as a speaker. In my presentation, I highlighted the links between piracy and other types of criminal activities at sea. These are particularly important as an increasing number of incidents has been reported in recent months as pirate attacks, even though these were likely to have been related to smuggling operations or illegal fishing.
Overall, it was a very interesting conference which brought together more than 2000 delegates from around the globe. The final communique, developed during the conference and based on the discussions in eleven thematic panels, covers a range of outcomes and can be found here.