20 Sep 2018

Razing Africa: Combatting criminal consortia in the logging sector

Organised-crime syndicates have been consolidating illegal timber exploitation in Africa on an unprecedented and accelerating scale.

Organised-crime syndicates – often with connections to Chinese markets – have been consolidating illegal timber exploitation in various African countries on an unprecedented and accelerating scale. This report, the result of ENACT research, analyses the layers of criminality that have come to define the logging supply chain, from extraction of rare species through to the sale of high-value timber in international markets. The report reveals how transnational organised crime allies with corrupt actors at the highest levels of states to profit from this lucrative and environmentally destructive illicit trade. ENACT research recommends for a policy-orientated investigation on organised crime in the forestry sector to be prioritised, advocating strongly for approaches targeted at disrupting these criminal consortia.

About the authors

Hassoum Ceesay is director of the Gambia National Museum. He previously served as deputy permanent secretary in the office of former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh. He writes on cultural history and transnational geopolitics. He authored the chapter ‘The impact of the crises on institutions in Guinea Bissau and the subregion’ in Guinea Bissau: From Micro State to ‘Narco State’, edited by Patrick Chabal and Toby Green.

Laurent Kidima Mavinga’s work specialises in community mobilisation efforts to build equitable natural-resource management structures in forested ecosystems. Kadima’s work seeks to mainstream gender equity into community-based natural-resource management frameworks. He previously worked with the European Union, the UK Department for International Development and the US Agency for International Development.

Jackson Miller is a senior research fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. He was previously a lead analyst on environmental crime at C4ADS, and a portfolio manager at the Wildcat Foundation, where he awarded and managed grants for wildlife conservation in West and Central Africa.

Oscar Nkala is a journalist specialising in defence, aviation and wildlife crime. He writes for several of southern Africa’s leading media organisations and publications. Nkala has also covered the southern African region for a mining industry news leader, which disseminates news to audiences in Australia, Canada and South Africa.

Riana Raymonde Randrianarisoa is executive director of digital media platform www.mada24.net and a co-creator of the Social Fact and the Investigative Journalism Network in Madagascar. She has held a number of journalism fellowships. She has participated in cross-border investigations into money laundering and corruption with the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. In Madagascar, she has received numerous awards for her work. She is completing a master’s degree in economic journalism at the University of Antananarivo-Madagascar.

Tuesday Reitano is deputy director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. She previously worked for more than 10 years at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the UN Development Programme, in particular focusing on issues of governance, justice and conflict transition in Africa.

Babar Turay is a consultant for several international mining industry monitoring organisations. He led fieldwork for the March 2017 Global Initiative study ‘Follow the money: Financial flows linked to artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Sierra Leone’

Cover image © AungMyo – Adobe Stock

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ENACT is implemented by the Institute for Security Studies in partnership with
INTERPOL and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.