News / Africa

Analysts: Greater Security, Governance Needed After Algeria Crisis

An unidentified person right, is followed by Algerian officials as they enter a morgue in Ain Amenas Algeria Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, where the bodies of the persons killed during the hostage situation at the gas plant in Ain Amenas,. At least 81 people haAn unidentified person right, is followed by Algerian officials as they enter a morgue in Ain Amenas Algeria Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, where the bodies of the persons killed during the hostage situation at the gas plant in Ain Amenas,. At least 81 people ha
x
An unidentified person right, is followed by Algerian officials as they enter a morgue in Ain Amenas Algeria Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, where the bodies of the persons killed during the hostage situation at the gas plant in Ain Amenas,. At least 81 people ha
An unidentified person right, is followed by Algerian officials as they enter a morgue in Ain Amenas Algeria Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, where the bodies of the persons killed during the hostage situation at the gas plant in Ain Amenas,. At least 81 people ha
Anita Powell
The head of oil giant British Petroleum has said the more than 80 deaths following a hostage seizure at a natural gas complex in Algeria have prompted the company to review its security. The attack at the Ain Amenas plant is one of the worst in recent history, but it is part of a growing pattern of attacks and kidnappings targeting African oil, gas and mining operations. Analysts say this incident underscores the need for improved security - and for governments to step up their own efforts to maintain peace and stability.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said his company had “never experienced an attack on this scale before” in the aftermath of the hostage situation that killed workers from Algeria, the U.S., Britain, France, Japan and Norway.

Such attacks are happening across Africa, however, especially in nations rich in resources but lacking internal security and infrastructure.

Energy exports

Countries like Algeria, Nigeria and Angola rely heavily on their energy exports. But as those nations are increasingly finding out, those resources can bring danger. Dozens of foreign workers across the continent have been kidnapped, attacked or killed in the last five years.

Often the attackers, like an al-Qaida offshoot in North Africa that has made kidnapping into an industry, are seeking large ransoms.

Or sometimes, like the branch of the al-Qaida group that claimed the Algeria attack, they have political aims. A Nigerian militant group active in the oil-rich Niger Delta says it kidnaps and sabotages to seek equality for its people. An Angolan separatist movement has attacked dozens for its cause.

Whatever the group’s cause, the motives for attacking oil and gas plants are the same, said analyst Balaji Srimoolanathan: They grab international attention and make a big impact.

Security paramount

Srimoolanathan, principal defense and security consultant at business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, said the alarming trend has been a boon to a growing security industry that guards oil and gas infrastructure. The firm reported earlier this year that the industry niche earned more than $18 billion in 2011. By 2021, they estimate that figure will rise to more than $31 billion.

Keeping those structures secure has far-reaching implications, he said.

“A lot of companies like BP and Shell, who have massive operations in Africa, are investing quite significantly in securing the plants. However, the kind of investment we are seeing today was not foreseen as good enough to secure plants against terrorist threats," said Srimoolanathan. "You have technology to help deter such issues. However, on a broader scale, at an African scale, you have countries who are relying on oil and gas for their economic growth, who do not take a very serious and consolidated effort toward securing this oil and gas infrastructure, it’s seriously going to cripple their economy. As companies have already seen, it’s quite serious now and risky to do this in Africa as such.”

To that end, Srimoolanathan, who is based in London, suggested that African nations band together to create an African infrastructure security force. He recommends a more proactive approach.

“What went wrong in this particular incident? The level of deterrence that was there would have been pretty low in the first place to prevent such incidents," said Srimoolanathan. "That’s why we’re seeing a much more reactive situation here from the Algerian military. Whereas if there were a much more proactive approach to … securing such critical infrastructure sites across the country, a lot of these incidents can be deterred in the first place.”

Vulnerabilities exposed

Analyst Anneli Botha of the Institute of Security Studies, a South Africa-based think tank, described the Algeria attack as a “wake-up call.” She said attacks by armed groups on oil, gas and mining operations lays bare another problem: African nations’ failures to maintain security and provide for their people.

“You have this cycle. But the cycle is not the multinationals. The cycle starts with not providing the basic services that people need. And that is not the responsibility of the multinationals," said Botha. "So it definitely is the essential aspect in this whole debate. Whether you’re in South Africa, whether you’re in Nigeria, whether you’re in Algeria, whether you’re in Mali - you need to have a functioning government, and in the absence of a functioning government, you allow people to use this to their advantage.

"So it all for me starts with the question: What is the level of governance in most of these countries? The question is: If you have a situation of poor governance, that can be used, and it is being used, to a great degree.“

Energy giants like BP and Shell have not been specific about how they plan to boost security. But one thing nobody expects is for the wheels of industry to stop turning.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs