Picture: 123RF/ Kyrylo Neiezhmakov
Picture: 123RF/ Kyrylo Neiezhmakov

Accra — Piracy off the coast of West Africa threatens plans to bolster regional trade, Ghana’s defence minister warned Wednesday, as navy chiefs discussed efforts to secure the troubled waters.

The Gulf of Guinea is the most dangerous stretch of sea for pirate attacks in the world, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The IMB said 62 seafarers were taken hostage or abducted in the area in the first half of 2019, accounting for 73% of kidnappings and 92% of hostage-takings at sea worldwide.

Earlier in July ten Turkish sailors were kidnapped by suspected pirates off the coast of Nigeria.

“The threats to maritime security and safety transcend borders and have the propensity to affect international trade, hence a threat to one coastal nation is a threat to all nations; coastal or landlocked,” Ghanaian defence  minister Dominic Nitiwul told a maritime conference in Accra.

“The sea is the super highway for global trade and the  African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement cannot be successful without a secured maritime domain.”

The two-day gathering in the Ghanaian capital — which included a delegation from the US navy — also focused on illegal fishing, oil thefts, and human and drug trafficking.

“Today piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea continue to pose a significant threat to regional and international shipping,” Ghana’s navy head Seth Amoama said.

“Threats including illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping for ransom, illegal fishing and drug trafficking are common across our oceans, transnational crimes not only threaten national peace and stability they also come at great cost to the economies.”

African states including SA officially have launched the landmark AfCFTA trade agreement, hailed as a big step towards bolstering commerce across the continent.

AFP