A report by Enact says there has been an increase in cross-border criminal activity across Africa, including Malawi.
Enact is an organisation which builds knowledge and skills to enhance Africa’s response to transnational organised crime and analyses how organised crime affects stability, governance, the rule of law and development in Africa.
The report that focuses on global organised crime and the role Africa plays in the world’s ‘criminal economy’ says although the continent has enjoyed increasing stability and rising economic growth in recent decades, there has also been an increase in cross-border criminal activity across the continent.
Among others, the report says African wildlife and natural resources make the continent vulnerable to organised crime.
For example, according to the report, Africa is losing $17 billion (K12.4 trillion) through illegal logging every year.
In neighbouring Mozambique, research by the Environmental Investigation Agency found a marked decline in registered logging and a dramatic increase in illegal logging.
In an interview director of forestry Clement Chilima said government has put measures to reduce illegal logging such as the closure of the country’s forests.
But he was quick to point out that there are still some who are beating their system and logging illegally.
Chilima said, so far, government has impounded more than 20 trucks with timber from Viphya Plantation—the country’s biggest man-made plantation in the Northern Region.
He, however, said his department lacks the capacity to deal with the illegal loggers.
“We have 30 armed guards. Next week, we will start the training of other 70 guards. After their training, they will be deployed in strategic places. We hope things will improve,” said Chilima.
The report makes an argument on how the continent must strengthen its efforts and reduce its vulnerabilities to organised crime.
The report authored by Mark Shaw, who is director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, says there is an urgent need to raise the profile of the issue.
“Already much damage is being done: African governments are being shaped and corrupted by illicit markets; the presence of foreign criminal networks has expanded and become embedded in many places in the continent. Africa’s environmental and other natural resources are being devastated; and African people, both the living and future generations, are having their birthright stolen,” reads the report.
And an analysis of the data by Mozambique’s University of Eduardo Mondlane found that, on average, just under 70 percent of all timber was traded unlicensed and that half of Mozambican wood exports to China.
Just like Mozambique, Malawi is also struggling with illegal logging which has caused damage to the country’s forests.
Most of the timber is exported to China. n