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Gulf of Guinea countries lose 2 bln USD annually to piracy: expert


20:49, June 25, 2013

YAOUNDE, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea costs regional countries an annual 2 billion U. S. dollars, posing an increasing threat in the oil-rich region in West Africa, according to an expert of the Yaounde-II University in Cameroon.

"Maritime piracy has already caused reduced visits to the ports in the zone," said Prof. Joseph Vincent Ntuda Ebode.

He was speaking on Monday at an international symposium held in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde in the run-up to a Central and West African summit to discuss maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.

In the case of Benin, whose economy is strongly dependent on the Cotonou port and whose port activities contribute almost 70 percent to the GDP, or 7.5 billion dollars, the earnings have seen a drastic drop due to piracy.

Nigeria, the top producer of crude oil in sub-Saharan Africa with an estimated output of 2 million barrels per day, has lost close to 7 percent of its oil revenues to pirates armed with sophisticated means.

Ebode said maritime piracy had resulted in higher insurance costs for cargo transporters, forcing them to employ heavy security detail or use longer routes to avoid the pirates.

However, it is the regional countries that are paying a heavy price to maritime piracy.

Because of their inability to control their territorial waters or monitor the activities of the rebel groups, some states are threatened with political instability.

The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Nigeria, for example, has increased attacks and abductions to press oil companies and the government to meet their demands.

The Gulf of Guinea region produces close to 40 percent of the oil consumed in Europe and 29 percent in the United States.

This, according to Ebode, ha led to strong militarization of the region by foreign forces, especially the U.S., which has signed agreements with Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea for any eventual use of their airports by U.S. forces.

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