How big is financial and economic crime (FEC) in Africa?
It's astronomical, and dwarfs all other economic activities. It is thought to cost the continent in excess of US $200 billion a year - at least four times the amount of official foreign aid to Africa: enough to attract the world's most rapacious and sophisticated crime syndicates!
The widely-cited annual figure of $60 bn estimated by a respected 2014 AU-UNECA study concerns only illicit financial flows and does not include cyber and other frauds; misappropriations, extortion and procurement offences; counterfeiting (including fake medicines, fertilizers and equipment); the trafficking of people, wildlife, minerals and narcotics; or rampant environmental degradation.
What is the link between demographics and FECs in Africa?
Africa’s population will double within the next three decades, by when a quarter of humanity will live in Africa – or be on their way to Europe! Most will be young, poorly educated and, on current trends, will never have a proper job. Many will become the willing and possibly ruthless foot soldiers of organised crime.
In that poverty and despair are the greatest allies of terrorists and organised crime, the global implications of this demographic powder keg need no elaboration.
Why is FEC training in Africa so important?
There is no other practical starting point. The many different views on how best to tackle FECs all stumble at the same sobering hurdle: the acute shortage of relevant skills. The effect is to undermine almost any strategy that individual countries or organisations may adopt in the fight against FECs.
Also, the skills deficit is itself attracting more and more international crime syndicates to the region, thereby further exacerbating the problem.
Other constraints - such as weak institutions, inadequate laws and procedures unsuited to local conditions – can only be overcome with sufficient suitably qualified local personnel.
Will the Academy really make a difference?
There will always be financial crime. What the Academy will do is ensure that the region has a significantly greater pool of relevant skills, as well as more effective procedures, to thwart the further plunder of the continent’s wealth and future.
Why will the Academy also cater for the private sector?
There is a pressing need for the private sector to assist more directly in the prevention, reporting and disruption of the full range of financial and economic crimes, rather than just those that directly affect particular industries. Collaboration with the relevant authorities is often constrained by readily avoidable misunderstandings and suspicion.
What do you mean by 'governance/oversight' issues?
Better front-line skills and procedures are crucial in the fight against FECs. However, they are of limited value in the absence of appropriate oversight and scrutiny. Senior figures across the economy – in parliament, boardrooms and public institutions – need to be regularly appraised of both the complexities of FECs and the latest criminal practices, so that they might most effectively support and oversee the fight against FECs.
Why the emphasis on inter-agency cooperation?
Globalisation and ICT innovations have prompted a sharp rise in cross-border FECs, yet routine international cooperation between law enforcement agencies – which may have different cultures, structures, procedures and resources – is often bedevilled by mutual suspicions and misunderstandings. As with public-private sector miscommunication, far too little attention is paid to the skills and procedures needed to overcome such barriers.