Maritime Security Risks in West Africa

Maritime Security Risks in West Africa

Breakthroughs in Global Development and Peace

Global Development and Peace student Kristine LeBlanc’s international volunteer experience sparked her interest in maritime security issues faced by West African nations.


Kristine LeBlanc’s poster on “Maritime Security: Risk Mitigation Strategies in West Africa” garnered a second-place award for graduate student posters at the University of Bridgeport’s 2014 Faculty Research Day. LeBlanc first wrote a research paper on the topic for a course, Political and Economic Integration, and was encouraged by her professor to submit it in poster form for the student competition. A master’s student in UB’s College of Public and International Affairs’ Global Development and Peace program, she was first intrigued with the maritime industry in West Africa while standing on a beach near Buduburam, Ghana. A volunteer stint at a Liberian refugee camp had brought her to Ghana, and LeBlanc, who is a sailor by hobby, watched with interest as the fisherman brought in their catch on small fishing boats.

“Everything comes down to shipping,” LeBlanc says. “The maritime industry is vital for development, particularly for the nations of West Africa. It is a complex business and requires collaboration among many different stakeholders. The problem of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea highlights the need for political and economic integration to ensure that the importing and exporting of goods can occur without security risks, as well as added delays and costs to these developing countries.”

A few months after her Faculty Research Day award, LeBlanc went on to present a paper on the associated topic, “Port Infrastructure and Maritime Security Risk in West Africa,” at the New England Political Science Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting. She is currently working on her thesis and expects to graduate in May. Before coming to UB, LeBlanc earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies in the Great Books from St. Anselm College and an M.S. in Higher Education and Leadership from Kaplan University.