During the year, Seychelles became one of the leading African countries in the fight against the Somali pirates, which in autumn 2009 had become a growing problem for the tourist nation. When international naval forces began to patrol the Gulf of Aden at the Horn of Africa, the pirates moved south and proceeded to attack ships in the Indian Ocean, near the Seychelles. According to COUNTRYAAH, Seychelles has a population of 96,762 (2018). The pirates threatened the tourist country’s already strained economy. According to President James Michel, Seychelles lost at least 4 percent of its GDP due to piracy in 2009.
With the help of France, in the autumn of 2009, the Seychelles began to review their legal system in order to prosecute and imprison pirates. In February 2010, Seychelles’ parliament passed tougher laws against the piracy attacks. At the same time, Parliament approved that the Seychelles, with the support of the EU and the UN, built special courts and a high-security prison with room for 40 prisoners. The Seychelles also signed a surrender agreement with the EU to prosecute suspected pirates. Alongside Kenya, Seychelles was the only African country to agree to prosecute pirates. The Seychelles were also assisted by the European naval force EUNAVFOR in monitoring their waters and seizing pirates.
At the end of July, the first pirates were sentenced in the Supreme Court in Seychelles capital Victoria. Eleven Somali pirates were given ten years in prison each for attempting to kidnap the crew of a boat from the Seychelles Coast Guard in December 2009. Four of the convicted men were under 18 years of age. Another 29 Somalis were waiting to be brought to justice for piracy. This was the first time pirates were convicted in Seychelles. In a statement, President James Michel described the convicting judges as “a historic milestone”. In the past, suspected pirates were often released because it was unclear where they would be brought to justice.
During the year, the Seychelles Coast Guard, in collaboration with EUNAVFOR, was able to rescue fishermen and other people kidnapped by Somali pirates. In March, 27 kidnapped men were freed from a fishing vessel and in November, the Seychelles’ Coast Guard rescued seven Seychelles fishermen who had been kidnapped the day before by Somali pirates on their vessel north of the island of Mahé.
The pirate attacks cost the Seychelles large sums in lost revenue from tourism and fishing and for extra transport costs. This was stated by Finance Minister and Vice President Danny Faure in his budget speech in early December. Import costs also increased as boat cargo insurance had become more expensive. Faure estimated that the piracy would cost the country nearly $ 17 million in 2011.
Despite the piracy attacks, Seychelles tourism increased by 11 percent during the period January – November, compared with the same period in 2009 when the Seychelles economy suffered a sharp decline in the wake of the international financial crisis. In February 2010, the country’s tourism council had begun to appoint “tourism ambassadors” as a way to increase tourism again, which the country is so dependent on. There were a number of hand-picked Seychelles living abroad who, in close cooperation with the Seychelles’ missions, would act as tourism ambassadors for their home country.
The Seychelles economy, which was in crisis in 2008 and 2009, recovered rapidly and was heading for a new boom at the end of the year. From negative growth in 2008 and zero growth in 2009, growth in 2010 was expected to exceed 6 percent. The rapid recovery was possible mainly due to the increase in the tourism sector.
On November 29, Seychelles opened its first university. The authorities hope that it will put an end to the flight of highly educated people from the country. Previously, those who wanted to go to university or college had to go abroad. Most study in the UK, but many also study at universities in Australia, New Zealand and India. It is common for foreign students to stay abroad after studying. The University of Seychelles is mainly funded by the government, but a number of private companies invested in the construction of the university and also support the business by distributing scholarships to students. The university would receive over 300 students in a variety of courses, and the teaching languages are English and French.