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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora