Somalia’s $18 Billion Piracy Threat Needs Political Fixes Ashore

The decline in piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia that cost the global economy $18 billion a year may be reversed if there’s no “political solution” onshore in the Horn of Africa Nation, the World Bank said.

The use of naval patrols and armed security guards on freighters is insufficient to end the threat of piracy, the bank said in a statement released today in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

“Pirates rely on onshore support to conduct negotiations and to secure safe access to coastal territories,” according to the report. “In turn, politically powerful figures capture large portions of the profits associated with piracy.”

Somalia in September elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud as president, marking the 16th attempt to establish an effective national administration since 1991. Previous efforts failed to stem clan-based infighting, rampant piracy off Africa’s longest coastline and an insurgency by al-Shabaab rebels, who have been fighting since at least 2006.

Somali pirates have had no successful hijacks this year, the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia said on March 20. Globally, piracy declined to a five-year low in 2012 as the number of ships attacked off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden fell to 75 from 237 in 2011, according to the London-based International Maritime Bureau.

“The Somali government sees that the solution can come from on land, such as building a stronger Somali navy, building prisons to jail the criminals and creating opportunities for youngsters,” Minister of Justice Abdullahi Abyan Nur said.

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