Federal Government Decision on Tigray Region Participation in drug trafficking offers political, security and business leaders windfall profits, says GI’s Mark Shaw, an organized crime expert. ‘They can conduct electoral and security campaigns, feed patronage systems, or take a fast track to wealth and power. In turn, politicians and security leaders can offer traffickers protection or even massistance.’
Drug use threatens African health and national development, ENACT said. The drug trade, fueled by organized crime, corrupts democratic institutions and threatens the achievement of the sustainable development goals. African consumption of illegal drugs is projected to become a public health emergency but the continent has a dramatic inability to meet demand for treatment. For example, 2017 data revealed that 40% of high-risk drug users in Nigeria wanted treatment but were unable to access it.
The African Union (AU) and its regional economic communities need to act urgently to address the drug challenge, said Eric Pelser, ENACT program head at the ISS.‘Illegal drug use poses a formidable law enforcement and public health problem to governments in Africa,’ he said.
West Africa’s role has also expanded as a global trafficking hub for drugs, particularly cocaine. The region’s drug users will more than double from about 5.7 million in 2018 to 13 million in 2050. An underground economy has developed around the production and distribution of methamphetamines, particularly in Nigeria.
Africa’s dangerous drugs phenomenon is driven by weak regulation and organized criminals operating across national borders. It is assisted by global production of cocaine and heroin to levels the 2018 World Drug Report says are the highest ever recorded.