This project intends to help policy-makers, the commercial sector and others understand the changing dynamics of maritime security risk around the African coast.
In recent years the Africa Programme has become a leading source of policy relevant information on the nature and political context of the threats posed by Somali pirates, as part of our Horn of Africa Project. This included an influential paper on Piracy in Somalia written by Roger Middleton in 2008. Reports and meetings since then have assisted a number of foreign ministries, militaries and companies in better understanding and addressing the nature of the threat. Although hijacking of ships continues, a number of measures, including counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia have reduced piracy in the region.
The Africa Programme is now examining increasingly complex maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea. This draws on our track record on piracy, on extractive issues and armed non-state actors, as well as our considerable expertise on and networks into regional actors, including Nigeria and Angola. Piracy is a growing challenge, but so is crude oil theft, drugs smuggling and other forms of illegal activity with links into broader regional problems of corruption, insurgency and radicalization. Regional maritime security is important to the energy security of a number of international actors. At the same time maritime resources such as fish, aquaculture and intact ecosystems directly contribute to the livelihoods of many Africans. A major conference on Gulf of Guinea Energy Security will be followed by a series of activities through 2013 to draw international attention to these challenges and seek measures to address them.