With Nigeria recording no piracy incidents in 2022, Ghana and Angola have risen to top on the list of countries reporting piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, data from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) have shown.
The data indicated that Takoradi Anchorage and Luanda Anchorage were both included in the IMB PRC’s list of worldwide ports with three or more reported incidents of piracy in 2022, with more than two-thirds of the events occurring while ships were anchored or berthed.
The country ranks highest in percentage of incidents – 33 percent – with Angola scoring 24 percent last year, the IMB PRC pointed out.
Despite the trend in Ghana and Angola, the IMB explained that the increased presence of naval vessels and cooperation between coastal authorities in the Gulf of Guinea continues to positively impact the piratical activities reported in Africa.
Interestingly, South Africa and Egypt made their first appearance in the IMB PRC’s report in more than six years.
Meanwhile, a non-profit group, Oceans Beyond Piracy, says the cost of maritime piracy in West Africa reached more than US$1.2billion in 2021.
Gains made in 2022
The overall number of incidents reported in the region last year decreased by 46 percent compared to 2021, and by a factor of four compared to 2020 the report said.
Crew kidnappings have equally decreased; from 57 crew members taken in seven separate incidents during 2021, to two crew members taken in a single incident in 2022.
Gulf of Guinea waters still dangerous
The IMB emphasised that Gulf of Guinea waters are still dangerous despite the appreciable gains and recent positive trends.
“The fact that two vessels were hijacked in 2022 – with 29 crew held hostage, and another vessel was fired upon while steaming demonstrates that threats to innocent seafarers remain in these waters,” the report noted.
West Africa remains juicy for piracy
Ninety percent of trade to West Africa comes by sea, according to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs – with the Scandinavian nation noting that maritime security is a crucial factor in economies on the Gulf of Guinea stretch.
With the region covering 11,000 km2 and stretching from Angola to Senegal, it is one of the world’s most important shipping routes for both oil exports from the Niger Delta and consumer goods to and from Central and West Africa.
As the region remains vulnerable despite massive investments in security, the phenomenon has created ideal conditions for piracy to thrive.
Overall drop in global piracy
Overall, global piracy and armed robbery numbers decreased last year; a reduction the IMB annual report attributed to a general decline of piratical activities in the Gulf of Guinea. The entity’s annual report for 2022 shows a 13 percent drop compared to attacks in 2021.