Does Organized Crime Exist in Africa?

By Stephen Ellis and Mark Shaw, African Affairs
August 17, 2015

2388706_anambrapoll3_jpegf7fccf7a2adf2ed68c6683b188e4d7de1-300x205In parts of Africa, there is a reformulation of politics and crime into networks that transcend the state/non-state boundary in ways that are not standard concepts of organized crime. The blanket term of organized crime can distract from this distinct problem that arises in a particular form based on the histories of individual countries. In diverse countries like Libya, Guinea-Bissau, and Zimbabwe, the needs of both legitimate and illegitimate business people have led a natural market for protection to emerge. When this leads to extensive private arrangements with public officials, it can amount to a new mode of governance. Africa becomes connected to international markets and institutions in a fashion where the distinctions between licit and illicit economic activity become difficult to detect.

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Security Topics: Combating Organized Crime