The president of Somalia has asked for donations of cash and military equipment to help it combat maritime piracy, which costs the global economy $6.9bn.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, asked foreign governments to provide weapons and training to Somalia’s military and fund the development of infrastructure along its coastline.

“Despite our fewer resources, we are doing our best to combat maritime piracy all over our lands and borders and to train marines … to have a widescale maritime campaign in order to defeat such pirates,” he said, speaking at the second International Counter Piracy Conference in Dubai on 27 June.

“These forces don’t have enough weapons to follow the pirates all over the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. At your conference I expect serious decisions [to be made] to arm the coastal forces of Somalia to combat piracy,” he added.

The president also condemned illegal fishing boats and passing vessels dropping toxic chemicals in Somali waters, which destroy the livelihoods of coastal people and fuel pirate activities.

The total economic impact of Somali piracy in 2011 was $6.9bn, according to shipping terminal operator DP World, more than $1bn higher than Somalia’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). About half of the costs come from increased fuel consumption, with only about 2 per cent lost though ransom payments.

Chairman of DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin-Sulayem, told the conference that pirate attacks had fallen for the first time in five years in 2011, thanks to international cooperation, but that the attacks were becoming more violent.

“The violence is escalating. The number of people dying has tripled from eight to 20 during a two-year period,” he said, adding that 62 people have died since 2007 as a direct result of piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden. As of mid-April this year, Somali pirates held nine ships and 215 hostages, down from a record high of 31 ships and 710 hostages in January 2011.

The conference focused on enhancing public-private partnerships (PPPs) to combat piracy more effectively, and to help develop Somalia’s coastal regions to provide education and jobs for young people in communities where pirates are being recruited.