the fight against money laundering – an African perspective!

Despite estimates from organizations such as the IMF and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), it is impossible to know exactly how much money is ‘legalized’ each year.

They put the sum between 2 and 5 percent of global GDP; if so, in 2014 there was a crop of about $ 2.5 tons, more than the GDP of the Russian Federation, India, Italy or Brazil.

The tragedy for the world is that these large sums come from the most insidious crimes: trafficking in women and children, drug smuggling, illegal arms sales and the financing of terrorist organizations. It is a large enterprise and it offers us all a difficult reality in especially the border and emerging markets in Africa. Illegal transactions or financial inconsistencies can take place anywhere in the world.

However, there is a lower detection risk in African countries, because our compliance programs are often not as strong as they should be, and in some cases are simply not effective. If African countries and the region as a whole want to seriously help in the global fight against terrorism, drugs and human trafficking, we need to re-evaluate it. We must acknowledge that significant progress has been made in many places – but that more needs to be done. And if we want to make rapid progress, we must work together as well as within our own borders, as the region wants to realize its full economic potential.

One of the most important steps for all African countries is to enter into full dialogue with global financial compliance institutions such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It has developed international standards for legal, regulatory and operational measures, in addition to the political will needed to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms. African countries need to work with these organizations and, most importantly, implement the policies and procedures they recommend to streamline their financial mechanisms. However, it is the legal adoption of policies and the enactment of laws that governing money for financial transactions that are so important.

The Republic of Angola issued its first anti-money laundering resolution (No. 19) in 1999, which the government reviewed on an ongoing basis. Further decisions were adopted in 2010 and 2011 ratifying the illicit trade in drugs and psychotropic drugs, cross-border crime and the elimination of terrorist financing. The review of existing laws is critical because the technologies and tactics used by global criminal networks are constantly evolving.

Failure to respond to changing world events poses not only a threat to global peace and stability, but also to our own national security. African countries must also realize that failure to act could jeopardize the security of their banking systems and potentially jeopardize socio-economic development.

However, the adoption of international policies is only part of the journey – prevention and punishment present African countries with an even greater challenge. We must acknowledge that the continent has a legacy of corruption and poor transparency – the world knows this and we must continue to respond accordingly. We have a special responsibility to show that, just as we strive to build world-class economies, we are capable of eradicating corruption at all levels. Thus, there is a cultural aspect to enforcing behavior change, especially in non-banking sectors.


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