Nigeria accounted for 26 per cent of kidnap and ransom incidents globally in the first half of 2013, a recent statistics released by NYA International, specialist crisis prevention and response consultancy, indicated.
NYA estimates that thousands of kidnappings take place in Nigeria annually – the majority unreported.
Analysts say it was this realisation that prompted the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) to enjoin insurance companies to start designing policies to cover kidnap and ransom since these risks which were alien to the country are now becoming rampant.
The association has already organised a training programme to sensitise all insurance and reinsurance companies on the need and relevance of kidnap and ransom insurance in our environment.
The survey also showed that kidnap for ransom has become something of a growth business in certain African countries, with countries including Somalia, Egypt, Kenya and Mali where the practice is growing, accounting for 10 per cent of all global incidents during the six months period.
This means the statistics revealed that Africa accounted for 36 per cent of kidnap and ransom incidents globally, putting it well ahead of the Americas (27 per cent) and Asia (19 per cent).
Now that Africa has become an important investment destination, analysts believe that corporate organisations need to start mitigating this growing risk, particularly if they have employees active in risky countries.
While kidnap and ransom (K&R) is rising alarmingly in sub-Saharan Africa according to experts, yet it appears that the region’s insurance sector is failing to fully address and develop the growing interest in K&R protection coverage.
In recent years, Nigeria consistently falls within the top 10 countries for kidnapping in the world, with over 1,000 cases reported each year, according to a report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).
Another risk consultancy firm, Control Risks, reported recently too that 74 per cent of kidnappings recorded in Africa in 2012 occurred in Nigeria.
Global risk analyst at the crisis management company red24, Frances Nobes, explains that the percentage is so high compared with other countries in sub-Saharan Africa partly due to the relative economic gap between rich and poor in the country, with criminal groups turning to kidnapping as a form of income.
It was further argued that the presence of large international companies, including those investing in the oil industry, a number of expatriates and wealthy local business people, also provide lucrative targets for kidnappers.