Somali piracy and terror pose threat to East African tourism


(eTN) – Recent terror attacks in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and an increase of Somali piracy on the East African coast have posed a threat and a drawback to the smooth growth of tourism in East Africa, threatening potential tourist investments and diverting to other parts of Africa.

Expressing her fear, the East African Community (EAC) Deputy Secretary General in charge of political integration, Beatrice Kiraso, said an increase of piracy activities, kidnapping of tourists, and recent grenade blasts in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi are all threatening East African peace and security with a negative impact on tourism growth.

Kiraso noted this week that Somali piracy was likely to deny the East African region its business opportunities and cause a diversion of potential investments to others countries in Africa.

Tourism would be the most affected sector under the current situation when pirates and terrorist groups are still operating in the East African region through a network to kidnap tourists for ransom.

She noted that piracy and terrorism were causing an increasing poverty and unemployment among the youths in East Africa, as big and promising business opportunities fail to operate in fear of terrorist attacks.

Somali pirates were likely to turn to softer targets, such as tourists in Kenya, in response to a more robust defense of merchant vessels. Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militants have also escalated their attacks in their homeland in the lawless Horn of Africa.

Tanzanian security forces suspect that Somali militants are hiding behind relatives living in East African cities, a reason behind frequent ship hijackings, kidnappings, and grenade attacks in Kenya and Uganda.

Kenya and Tanzania have been peaceful homes for Somali ethnic groups, which had integrated with locals for several decades. Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are such cities with a big number of Somalis living there peacefully, but secret sources from the Tanzanian army indicate that Somalis living in these two nations are likely to have colluded with Al-Shabaab militants to terrorize their host countries.