As rates of piracy emanating from Somalia's coast fall, international attention is shifting towards insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea – the waters off Africa's west coast.
Maritime crimes including oil-bunkering, drug-trafficking and illegal fishing are of economic and security concern to the wider international community as well as to local states.
There are a number of critical differences between maritime insecurity off Africa's east and west coasts, but the Gulf of Guinea's littoral states and stakeholders further afield can draw valuable lessons from the experience of combating Somali piracy to help shape their responses to West Africa's maritime threats.
Early action by policy-makers – regionally and further afield – could do much to ensure that criminality does not evolve and increase to an unmanageable extent. Those who commit illegal acts at sea are highly adaptable, increasingly sophisticated in their methods and often well informed, and so local, regional and global efforts must be flexible and proactive.
Timing is especially important, as a number of West African states will go to the polls in 2015, presenting an unprecedented challenge to the region’s security and stability and risking maritime security slipping down the agenda.