The sea lanes of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) are endowed with valuable resources and are an important artery of global trade. It connects maritime traffic from multiple continents due to its central location, particularly its proximity to Europe and America. Historically, the geostrategic importance of the GoG made it the center of intense European scramble, expansionism, and colonialism. This has endured, especially in the last two decades, because of increasing global energy dependency on the region’s offshore hydrocarbon reserves. Thus, the maritime profile of the GoG and the larger Atlantic Ocean system are not just global commons, but are equally making enormous contribution to the social-economic development of the littoral (coastal) states, many of which are expanding the economic derivatives of their maritime estate.

The opportunities of the GoG are, however, being drowned in the waves of multiple insecurities. The maritime environment is epitomized by complexity and uncertainty—making planning, projections, risk assessment, and risk mitigation very difficult.  This reality is often masked or lost in the minds of national and international policy analysts. Of course the shipping community and key interests in the offshore oil and gas industry cannot be oblivious to this incessant insecurity. Yet, the “awareness” tends to be sectorial and bereft of the birds-eye view that should underpin investor decisions and policy responses.

Both the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reported a decline in piracy attacks in the GoG region for 2014, and that may hold for 2015 as well. The number of incidents last year was 45, compared with 54 in 2013, and 64 in 2012. This should convey optimism of the  increasing safety and security of the waterways.Read More…