In Central Africa, transnational criminal activities such as wildlife crime, illegal fishing, drug trafficking and arms smuggling are thriving. Governments in the region are unable to address these effectively, hamstrung by political and socio-economic fragility, weak governance and poor border management.
Although it is necessary to identify priority crimes, this remains challenging given limited monitoring, data and weak media reporting. This calls for a closer look at national and regional contexts in Central Africa.
Regional strategies remain limited by a lack of institutional capacity, particularly in the Economic Community of Central African States and maritime security mechanisms. Efforts to reorganise these mechanisms, and a new consensus around the African Continental Free Trade Area, provide opportunities to boost regional peace and security.
At national levels, drivers of transnational organised crime include corruption and limitations to the rule of law; such as weak law enforcement. The region also continues to suffer from a resource curse, given its abundance of natural wealth, wildlife and vast water reserves. This has attracted illicit exploitation and trafficking.
One of Central Africa’s biggest challenges in tackling organised crime, however, lies in how it engages its large youth population. States’ violent repression of dissent amid economic crises is fuelling anger and radicalisation among youths, who turn to criminal gangs or violent extremist groups for inclusion and employment opportunities. This is particularly evident in Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In this context, the following three trends in transnational organised crime are likely to increase in intensity, and should be prioritised by policy makers:
Unless prioritised at both a national and regional level, the impact of these trends is likely to be felt long into the future.
Agnes Ebo’o, ENACT Regional Organised Crime Observatory Coordinator – Central Africa, ISS