This report is a first step towards building a qualitative understanding of the way
illicit or criminal activities interact with the economy, security and development
of West African states. Going beyond a traditional analysis of illicit financial flows
(IFFs), which typically emphasises the scale of monetary flows, the report examines
the nature of thirteen overlapping, and oftentimes mutually reinforcing, criminal
and illicit economies, with a view to identify their resulting financial flows and
development linkages. In taking this approach, this report identifies the networks
and drivers that allow these criminal economies to thrive, with a particular emphasis
on the actors and incentives behind them. As a conclusion to this work, this report
proposes a series of policy considerations to assist countries to prioritise and focus
their responses to reduce the development impacts of IFFs. Resolving the problem of
IFFs requires responding to underlying development challenges, and tackling all parts
of the problem in source, transit and destination countries.
Published on February 20, 2018Also available in: French
Development concerns that constrain the ability of law-enforcement officials to address
criminal enterprises effectively: instability; limited state authority or presence;
long and porous borders; and limited capacity, resources or political support for
Leadership by national governments needs to be the primary driver of any kind of response,
as reducing or returning Illicit Financial Flows will fail to translate into development
benefits for ordinary people if elite corruption persists.
Conditions needed to ensure effective security responses by law enforcement: developing
sustainable livelihoods; promoting the rule of law; enhancing financial inclusion;
reducing corruption; strengthening the capacity and development orientation of the
state and its institutions.