Piracy catches on

by | Dec 1, 2008

The piracy fad may be spreading around the African coast. Last week a Chinese fishing boat was attacked off the coast of Sierra Leone in West Africa. The pirates, all from neighbouring Guinea, took off with money and a boatload of fish. Unfortunately, the heavy cargo slowed down the pirates’ vessel, allowing the Sierra Leone navy to catch up with it and, after a scuffle which left four pirates dead, arrest those remaining.

The West African coast has many of the elements that make Somalia a good spot for a bit of buccaneering – rank poverty, lots of underemployed young men, unstable governments, endemic corruption and favourable geography. If ships start avoiding Suez and going the long way round the Horn of Africa instead, they might be in for a nasty surprise when they reach the opposite side of the continent.


  • Mark Weston

    Mark Weston is a writer, researcher and policy adviser, and the author of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries.