The Gulf of Guinea is one of the World’s richest yet still under-developed regions. It produces about 5 million barrels of oil per day and about 600 thousand tons of fish are caught every year. There are 1.2 million hectares of mangroves, large reserves of minerals and other natural resources such as gas, diamonds, gold and uranium as well as a very rich rain forest, accounting for 20% of the world’s total, which provides shelter and protection to a large portion of the World’s biodiversity. The region is also a major maritime highway for world trade which, considering the abundance of raw materials, further increases its relevance for rich and industrialised countries.
In sharp contrast to this promising landscape, the region is well below the global average in terms of economic and human development. Weak institutions, poor governance, uneven distribution of wealth and poor education are among the internal factors hampering the economic potential of regional states. At the same time, significant security issues continue to pose a threat to domestic and regional stability. While transnational terrorism seems to be less virulent than in other parts of Africa, there are nonetheless many politically and economically motivated conflicts which deeply impact local societies.
Since the drivers of regional insecurity are multifaceted, it is difficult to develop a single, all-encompassing response. Therefore, governments and regional institutions, together with the wider international community, should develop a holistic approach instead of tackling them individually to help the region drag itself out of crippling poverty to secure a brighter future for all, especially the younger generation.