Somali pirates are earning up to $79,000 a year, 150 times the average annual income in Somalia of $500 as piracy on the Indian Ocean continues to have an adverse impact on the economies of East Africa and beyond. A recent study by political and economic intelligence consultancy firm Geopolicity reveals that the area under the threat of piracy has steadily extended to some 2.5 million nautical square miles off Somalia’s coastline, an increase of one million nautical miles from two years ago.
The total costs of piracy in 2010 are estimated to be between $7 billion and $12 billion, which include ransoms, insurance payments and the cost of naval operations, prosecutions and of rerouting ships. The Indian Ocean accounts for half of the world’s container traffic, while 70 per cent of total global petroleum traffic passes through the Indian Ocean. The Gulfs of Aden and Oman are among the world’s major shipping lanes: About 21,000 ships, and 11 per cent of global crude oil traffic, cross the Gulf of Aden every year.
The ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam handled a combined cargo of 25 million tonnes in 2008, not just for Kenya and Tanzania but also for inland countries such as Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi. Together, East Africa’s ports account for approximately one-fifth of sub-Saharan Africa’s container traffic, with an average annual growth of 6 per cent since 1995.