The 2013 annual report of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), released last Monday, said West African countries witnessed major political, economic and social developments in 2013.
Prominent among these developments, according to the report, is the continued macro-economic growth and the expansion of the financial sector. Specifically, West Africa is projected to post an average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.7 per cent and 7.4 per cent in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
“The evidence, economic and financial growth provide a fertile ground for large-scale corruption and profit-motivated crimes unless it is accompanied by far-reaching reforms in governance,” GIABA said.
Besides, the fact that this growth has not generated corresponding levels of employment means that many young people still suffer high unemployment, with attendant consequences for crime and other social problems.
The GIABA report noted that West Africa has suffered from a number of terrorist activities, regardless of strong national and regional counter-terrorism efforts. Deadly Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organisations – Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) operating in the north of Mali, and Ansar Dine and Boko Haram operating in the north of Nigeria and in parts of Niger – stepped up vicious campaigns of terror (mass killings, kidnappings, abductions and attacks on vital economic installations), making Sahelian West Africa one of the most insecure regions in the world.
Fertile land for money laundering
The annual report also noted that terrorism, trafficking in arms, drugs and people, and other transnational forms of organised crime are threatening security in Africa’s vast sub-Saharan Sahel region. It said these conditions provide the fertile ground on which money laundering and terrorist financing thrive.]]>