An initiative to strengthen regional cooperation to tackle maritime security threats in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) has been launched in Accra.
Dubbed, “Pirates of the Niger Delta”, the initiative seeks to enhance maritime law enforcement capabilities and foster intelligence sharing among regional partners.
It is being spearheaded by the Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with funding from the Danish government.
The Pirates of the Niger Delta II is a sequel to the initial report released in 2021 and delves into a thorough examination of the recent decrease in deep-sea kidnapping-for-ransom occurrences in the region, while simultaneously chronicling the various counterpiracy measures implemented at the national, regional, and international levels that collectively played a role in the observed mitigation of incidents.
The initiative in partnership with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) will address the root causes of piracy through a comprehensive approach that includes training, equipment provision, and strategic engagement with maritime law enforcement agencies in the region.
The second phase of the Pirates of the Niger Delta focused on advancements in counterpiracy measures and highlights the persistent piracy challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, calling for unwavering attention and collective action.
The report recognised the multidimensional nature of piracy underscoring the need to address the underlying causes such as poverty, unemployment, weak governance and political instability among other underlying drivers and enabling conditions.
Speaking at the launch of the report, the Vice-Chairman of the Ghana National Maritime Security Committee, Commodore (GN) Steve Darbo (retd), who stood in for Thomas Alonsi, the Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, said maritime security in Africa was rapidly changing, necessitating advancements in maritime security architecture and fostering increased regional cooperation.
The maritime domain, he said, was the lifeblood of many of the economies in Africa, and in many cases, a central element of food security and sovereignty.
Once considered the second most dangerous maritime region, the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain, he said has witnessed a significant decline in piracy incidents, thanks to a concerted regional effort.
Similarly, the Niger Delta, once a hotspot for pirate activities, he suggested has seen a noticeable reduction in attacks, underscoring the effectiveness of the Yaoundé Architecture, a collaborative maritime security initiative.
The Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tom Nørring in his remarks said that the maiden study revealed that within the piracy networks, several actors undertook diverse roles such as sponsorship, recruitment, mentoring new pirates, negotiation of ransoms among others.
He said this had a substantial impact on responses at the global, regional, and national levels, highlighting the necessity of broadening piracy investigations to encompass network actors and developing targeted interventions to address the local circumstances that drive individuals into piracy.