Africa losses $300bn to oil theft, illegal fishing

By The Citizen

The African Union yesterday said the continent has lost $200 billion in five decades  to illegal fishing and $100 billion due to illegal bunkering since 2003.

The figures released at the opening of the first ever summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), which opened yesterday, Yaounde,  the Cameroonian capital showed that in 2012, 45 per cent of the crimes were committed on Nigeria’s borders, Togo 25 per cent, Ghana three per cent, DRC three per cent, Cameroon five per cent, Sierra Leone two per cent, Benin three per cent and Cote d’ Ivoire two per cent.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), listed attacks recorded to include 58 in 2011, 45 in 2012, 34 of which occurred between January and September of the same year as against 30 in 2011 during the same period.

The most affected countries are Benin, Nigeria, Togo and to a lesser extent, member countries of ECCAs, resulting in insecurity, threats to economic growth and political stability in neighbouring countries.

According to the Nigerian Navy, the country records 10 to 15 attacks monthly on its stretch of the Gulf of Guinea.

President Goodluck Jonathan was among the 25 African leaders that were coming under the UN Resolution 2039 of February 2012, for the Gulf of Guinea region where 200 million people are living under threat of piracy, transnational maritime crimes.

The summit one of the most important ever held in Africa, is to provide a coordinated regional and international response to the scourges of piracy, drug trafficking, armed robbery and other illegal maritime activities in the Gulf of Guinea.

To this end, the leaders will review and adopt a series of measures that were previously reviewed at the March 2013 inter-ministerial conference held in Cotonou (Benin).

A region leading in the largest discovery of oil reserves, safe haven for aquatic life and major route for rich forest and agricultural products of the African continents.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon in his message delivered by Abou Moussa, commended the leaders of the affected states of  the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), created in 2001, for the summit which it said is the best option to save their people from poverty as crime diminishes their economic power.

The African Union Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her message said Africa lost $200 billion in five decades to illegal fishing, $100 billion due to illegal bunkering since 2003. We cannot allow this incursion of resources to continue”.

The host President Paul Biya, called on his colleagues to make sacrifices to reverse the negative trend.

President Jonathan will be focusing on the benefits of this summit to Nigeria as it concerns commerce, safety and poverty reduction.

With the Gulf of Guinea hosting some of the world’s most populated countries like Nigeria alone with close to 160 million people, experts fear that the toxic mix of organised maritime crime, rising small-arms proliferation and insurgency with high rates of unemployment could lead to a high number of refugees and internally displaced persons.