Why is the threat of piracy increasing in West Africa?

Modern piracy is a complex and ever-evolving issue, and there are always multiple factors at play when a location becomes a new “hot spot” for piracy. While attacks around Somalia and the Horn of Africa have begun to decrease, the threat of attack has increased for crews in the waters off West Africa.

Factors Causing Increases in Piracy Threats Off West Africa

  • Oil boom – Oil and oil exploration has become big business in several West African countries, meaning that sea shipping routes to and from these areas is booming. Large shipping vessels carrying millions of dollars in cargo have become a tempting target for criminal organizations in West Africa.
  • Fast riches – As the oil business booms, so does the black market. Piracy and related crime offers the promise of quick riches for an impoverished population that may not have other options.  
  • Underdeveloped naval forces – Since piracy in West Africa is a relatively new threat, and many West African nations have been highly focused on inland development, strong naval enforcement is not yet a reality. Even the most developed navies in the area still lack manpower and equipment, and enforcement has had only a limited effect.  
  • Diplomatic concerns – Political tensions in the area mean that it’s difficult to coordinate efforts between West African nations or bring in outside intervention from international forces.

As the threats increase in West Africa, the oil and shipping companies who operate in the area need to take precautions to deter or avoid pirate attacks on their vessels. If you have questions about the rights of crewmembers after a pirate incident or hostage situation, reach out to our friendly and experienced legal team today.

Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.