Transnational Crime Imperils African Nations

May 27, 2017

Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, is on the rise. It has some of the world's fastest-growing economies and a young population that is eager to learn and work. Today, the continent commands significant investment from all over the world. But Africa's bright future is imperiled by transnational crime, said Senior Director for National Security and Diplomacy Anti-Crime Programs at the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, David Luna:

“In particular, we must recognize that trans-regional illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, humans, and other illicit trade goods and services, are fueling greater insecurity and instability across Africa, and in other parts of the world.”

FILE - Bags of confiscated cocaine are shown at the office of the Guinean drug enforcement agency in Conakry, Guinea.
FILE - Bags of confiscated cocaine are shown at the office of the Guinean drug enforcement agency in Conakry, Guinea.

We see “increasing links between cross-border narcotics trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime across Africa that imperil not only the rule of law, economic development efforts, the promotion of trade and investment, but helps to fuel greater instability and insecurity.”

The illegal economy accounts for 8 to 15 percent of the world gross domestic product, but in many developing countries, that figure is far higher. Enormous amounts of illicitly-gained dollars are expended by criminal organizations to corrupt government officials and security officers, helping criminal threat networks “carve out an illicit trafficking corridor that stretches from the West African coast to the Horn of Africa, from North Africa south to the Gulf of Guinea,” said David Luna.

At a time when many are heralding the rise of some of the world's fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, these criminal entrepreneurs are undermining that economic development and growth by financing flourishing illicit markets, turning many vulnerable communities into a corridor of insecurity and instability, and siphoning the real potential of the legitimate economy.

“The best way to combat illegal trade is through collective action at every level – local, regional, and global to win our fight against convergence crime,” said Mr. Luna. “The United States will continue to enhance international cooperation with key partners to combat the lethal nexus of organized crime, illicit trade, corruption, and money-laundering, and to protect communities from the violence, harm, and exploitation brought about by transnational networks. The U.S. will do this by enhancing its efforts to break their corruptive power; attacking their financial underpinnings; following the money and stripping them of their illicit wealth; and severing their access to the financial system.”