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The Gulf of Guinea is now the world’s worst piracy hotspot

The Gulf of Guinea is now the world’s worst piracy hotspot
29 June 2019

The tricks that baffled buccaneers off Somalia and South-East Asia may not help in west Africa

DOCKED IN THE port of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, floats a colossal oil tanker. Two layers of razor wire snake around its deck. Two life-sized human dummies in orange jumpsuits are perched on the ship’s bridge, posing as crew members keeping watch. Serving as a reminder that such precautions are prudent in Africa are the mangled steel and concrete remains of a jetty. It was blown up a decade ago by militants with a sideline in piracy.

The Gulf of Guinea, on west Africa’s southern coast, is the world’s most pirate-infested sea. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports 72 attacks last year on vessels at sea between Ivory Coast and Cameroon—up from 28 in 2014. This year so far it has recorded 30. Although some of the rise may reflect more complete reporting, Max Williams of Africa Risk Compliance (ARC), a security consultancy, says piracy remains chronically under-recorded. Ship-owners fear their vessels will be held up at port during an investigation. His firm estimates the real number of attacks last year was double the IMB’s figure.

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