minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure has disclosed that a
recent report by the United Nations Office for Drug Control (UNODC) estimated
that across the world, Organised Crime generates over $800 billion a year -
more than six times the amount of official development assistance to Africa and
close to 7% of the world’s exports of merchandise.
Out of this figure, he added that drug trafficking forms the bulk with an estimated annual value of $320 billion.
Ebrima Sillah was speaking at the opening of a two-day high level regional intelligence chiefs’ confab, staged by the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA). It is being hosted by the State Intelligence Services (SIS) of The Gambia. However, the outcome of the Banjul meeting was leading to enhancing peace and security in The Gambia, the region, continent and the world at large.
He added: “Human trafficking in which men, women and children are used for labour and sexual exploitation, fetches organised criminal networks and cartels annual profit of about $32 billion. Moreover, illicit trade in firearms is estimated around $320 million annually making it easy for gangs and armed bandits and rebels to lay hands on lethal weapons. Similarly, trafficking in natural resources such as timber, diamonds and precious stones often from conflict zones ultimately contribute to the destruction of the environment, deforestation, climate change and rural poverty. The traffic in counterfeit medicines is a deadly trade for consumers as they contribute to resistance to drugs and in some cases death.”
Minister Sillah stated that the above statistics is ample testimony to the lucrative nature of organised crime perpetuated by sophisticated groups who operate within a complex web with a determined effort to achieve their dastardly acts.
West Africa, he went on, is a prime target for this high level criminality and as such called for all hands to be on deck to tackle it decisively with every power at our disposal.
Information Minister reiterated that no security threat should be taken for granted or seen as insignificant or too small to allow the intelligence community into inaction.
“Indeed the level of threats may differ depending on the situation at hand but that in itself makes it all the more important for greater synergy and sophistication in the way information on national security issues are processed to detect, neutralise, and prosecute offenders.”
He reminded that in this digital age where criminals of all types have at their disposal gadgets that may cause consequential damage to national security and societal peace, it is important that national security agencies in West Africa strengthen their collaboration on sharing intelligence on individuals, groups and organizations that abuse the cyberspace to aid, abet and sustain criminality.
Minister Sillah indicated that the advent of cheaper internet is also accompanied by new threats and risks, reminding that the net is today the biggest breeding ground for jihadi and other terrorist groups that prey on unsuspecting people who are recruited, brainwashed and radicalised.
“Young people in particular and other vulnerable people in society especially, are the primary targets for recruitment and radicalization with all its severe consequences on national, regional and global peace. As the cyberspace is getting more and more complex, national security services in West Africa need stronger collaboration with critical stakeholders to enlighten people at home and at work to understand the basic cyber security rules.”