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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid