The need to combat the increasing trend of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, which could do serious damage to Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and slow development for years to come, was brought to the fore recently by Paramount Group, Africa’s largest privately owned defence and aerospace business.
According to Paramount Group, the solution is not to seek international help to solve these African problems, but to build African solutions to them. It added that the development of a strong African shipbuilding industry means it is possible for African nations to find African solutions to the threat of piracy.
The Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities route, which includes waters off Nigeria, has emerged as a new danger-zone with pirates targeting fuel cargo and loading it onto other ships to sell on the lucrative black market, rather than seeking ransom to release ships, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) had recently said.
The attraction is Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest oil producer with a capacity of over 3 million barrels of oil per day.
In a recent release, Paramount Group said the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea could double next year if governments do not act to protect off-shore assets.
It stated that there had been over 360 attacks on merchant shipping this year and without action by West African governments this could rise to over 700 incidents in 2014. This could see an average of two attacks every day of the year.
In response to growing demand from sovereign governments across Africa and the developing world, Paramount Naval Systems is developing a fleet of multi-role patrol vessels, with speed and flexibility that make them ideal for a wide range of operations in coastal waters to prevent illegal activity and protect assets and territory.
“To protect national resources, it’s essential to invest in flexible and modern maritime resources to patrol coastal waters and effectively counter piracy,” James Fisher, chief executive officer, Paramount Naval Systems said.
Attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Guinea have become the greatest threat to merchant shipping in Africa, surpassing attacks off Somalia in 2012, said Paramount Group, adding that currently there is an average of one attack per day on ships in the Gulf of Guinea and the trend is only worsening.
It would be recalled that in June, West African leaders called for the establishment of an international naval force in the Gulf of Guinea to cut down on security threats.
[Femi Asu, Business Day]