Mitigating the impact of transnational organised crime in Africa


Organised crime threatens governance, peace and security – especially in developing nations. It affects every section of society from shopkeepers to presidents, fuels corruption and conflict and diverts resources needed for development.

Responses to organised crime in Africa traditionally focus on criminal justice or security measures, rather than tackling the problem holistically. It’s time for a new debate on what should be done.

This is the task of a joint initiative recently launched by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), INTERPOL and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (GIATOC). Funded by the European Union’s (EU’s) Pan African Programme for the next three years, the ENACT programme (Enhancing Africa’s capacity to respond to transnational organised crime) aims to mitigate the impact of transnational organised crime in Africa on development, governance, security and the rule of law.
“The programme is the first of its kind. Our goal is to assist all African countries to better respond to transnational organised crime and we will do that by working at regional and continental levels,” said the ISS’s Eric Pelser, who heads ENACT.
“Our approach is innovative. We’re using a wide range of activities and tools to provide evidence-based responses to the issue. This will help governments and civil society to work together and develop more effective policy and implementation.”

ENACT will establish five regional observatories across the continent to monitor trends. The risk of organised crime will be measured by a new index assessing vulnerability in particular countries. Original research will provide insights into the nature of organised crime and how effective existing responses are. An incident monitoring capability and future forecasting will inform longer-term policy responses, the ISS said.

The new data, analysis and resources produced by ENACT will be publicly available on Africa’s first interactive online organised crime hub.

The programme capitalises on the collective expertise of each partner organisation. “The ISS has an extensive network across Africa and shapes policy by providing sound advice based on research. We are also the partner of choice for many governments and regional organisations when it comes to training and technical assistance,” Pelser said.

With its convening power, high-tech infrastructure and operational support, INTERPOL brings a wealth of expertise to improve law enforcement responses to organised crime. “This programme falls directly within INTERPOL’s mandate – to enable police to work together to make the world a safer place,” said Nathalie Richard-Bober, ENACT Project Co-ordinator, INTERPOL.

INTERPOL has a National Central Bureau in each of the African Union’s (AU’s) 55 member states providing ENACT with continent-wide reach.
“Before states can develop better responses to organised crime, they need to know what features of their political, economic and social landscapes make them vulnerable,” GIATOC director, Mark Shaw, said.
“We will use our developed and skilled research capability on continental and regional issues to develop a one-of-a-kind vulnerability assessment tool. This will show African states the presence and scale of the threat, their risk to organised crime and state capacity and political will to respond to organised crime threats.”

Within the next three months, the programme will publish its first report on the results of a pilot study into wildlife trafficking in Southern Africa. An ENACT website will soon be launched and key agreements with partners at the national, regional and continental level will be finalised.