Freight intra Africa – the piracy factor

Piracy now spreading to regions without or with little navy patrol

At 30 November, nine vessels and 154 hostages were still being held by Somalia pirates
Somali Pirates

Piracy off the east and west coast of Africa affects the entire export/import supply chain, including transport logistics in sub-Saharan Africa. The latest statistics show that it is now spreading to regions without or with little navy patrol.

Apart from lives lost, violence, people held hostage for ransom, and vessels and cargoes hijacked, the threat of piracy is also increasing the voyage times of vessels as ships use safer but significantly longer routes, according to shipowners. This causes late ship arrivals at ports of destination – including South African ports – and consequent delays in and disruption of the entire supply chain, which often includes and affects road freight transport.

All these factors must obviously be worked into the total logistics cost by intermodal logistics service providers, including the cost of special transit security measures (e.g. armed guards) and insurance cover.

The sea is very important for intra-African trade, as 91% of goods traded between African countries are transported by sea. About 40% of the world's oil supply is shipped through the Indian Ocean for delivery worldwide, including  44 refineries in 25 countries on the African continent.

Piracy along the coast of Africa was most predominant in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, and is said to be costing the East African region around R100-billion a year. In recent years, it has also spread to West Africa and the Mozambique Channel. 

Statistics published on the global piracy website of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) show that more than 270 incidents of piracy and armed robbery have been reported worldwide up to 30 November this year, when nine vessels and 154 hostages were still being held by Somalia pirates.

The figures and a report by Idarat Maritime show that although piracy incidents have decreased in regions where there has been a navy presence, it has been spreading to places where there is no or little such presence, as in West Africa.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world’s only manned centre receiving and disseminating reports of piracy and armed robbery 24 hours a day, across the globe. As part of the ICC, it is an independent body set up to monitor attacks – free of political interference.

The statistics show that there had been a total of 274 attacks and 27 hijackings worldwide. 


Although the southern African coastline is still safe up to Angola and Mozambique from a piracy point of view, the evil has been spreading southward. In February 2012, South Africa (SA Navy) signed a pact with Tanzania and Mozambique, which will see the three countries working together in securing the territorial waters while ensuring the free flow of goods for economic development of the Southern African Development Community and the African continent as a whole.

A live map to see where the hot spots are, can be viewed at:

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