Nigeria and the Republic of Togo are partnering to combat rising piracy and oil theft off West Africa. Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe met Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari this week to discuss increasing security measures in the region. Gnassingbe also extended an invitation to a maritime security and development summit to be hosted in Togo in November. Nigeria and Togo both abut the Gulf of Guinea, a hotbed of pirate activity recently.
“The summit will deal with issues of piracy, and we know that one of the problems of Nigeria is the theft of oil through the sea,” President Gnassingbe said in a statement. “The summit will also deal with illicit trafficking in the sea like drug trafficking, human trafficking and also with the issues of pollution of our water.”
Piracy has spiked in the region since 2008, and Nigeria claims losses of about $2 billion per year. The Nigerian government says it loses $800 million to illegal fishing activities and $9 million to piracy attacks. Another $16 million is squandered through oil thefts, and hundreds of millions of dollars are paid out in ransoms.
The Togo President says that the Gulf of Guinea loses $7 billion annually due to piracy. He added that his country and others in the region cannot afford to lose such exorbitant amounts of money to piracy given their current financial states, and that coordinated efforts among African nations are the only solution to a growing problem.
“If all the African countries are on the same page, it would be easy to tackle the security challenges,” he added. “So we have to keep holding summits because individual countries cannot combat piracy effectively without cooperation.”
Nigeria has destroyed 200 illegal oil refineries and 58 oil barges and arrested more than 80 pirate vessels in the past year.