W Africa transit for $1bn coke

2009-07-07 22:18

New York - West Africa remains a major transit point for cocaine smugglers who annually channel 20 tons of the drug valued at $1bn from Latin America to final destinations including Europe, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Tuesday.

The volume of cocaine passing through the region has declined by about half over two and a half years, but there is no guarantee that the downward trend will continue, said Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC's executive director, during a session with the UN Security Council.

About 40 tons of cocaine transited the region to Europe in 2006, UNODC said. The reasons for the huge drop were not clear, but more details may be available on Wednesday when the full report is released.

"We must therefore keep the spotlight on the situation and continue to provide assistance," Costa said. "Perhaps drug flows have only been temporarily disrupted as criminal groups lie low to minimise risk."

The region has also become a haven for other illicit trade in cigarettes, counterfeit medicines, arms, women, toxic waste, electronic waste, oil and other natural resources including hardwoods and diamonds.

Illicit trade hub

Costa said recent turmoil in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea (Conakry) and the infighting among groups over lucrative smuggling activities underline how attractive West Africa is as an illicit trade hub. Even if the drug trade has declined, violence continues to destabilise the region's security, the report said.

He said UNODC is teaming up with other UN organisations and Interpol to assist the region in strengthening its criminal justice and crime-fighting capacity.

The value of the trade exceeds in some cases the gross domestic products of the host state. UNODC said that revenue from 45 million counterfeit anti-malarial tablets worth $438m is greater than Guinea-Bissau's GDP, for example.

Cigarettes smuggled through the region are worth $775m, more than Gambia's entire legal economy.

Bunkering - or stealing - oil and trafficking in cocaine each accounts for billions of dollars of trade each year as it transits through West Africa to other countries. The revenues are equivalent to the GDPs of Cape Verde or Sierra Leone.

Nigeria loses 55 million barrels of oil a year, or one-tenth of its production, to theft and smuggling, known as oil bunkering. The phenomenon is a source of pollution, corruption and revenue for insurgents and criminal groups in the Niger Delta.

According to the report, as much as 80% of the cigarettes sold in some West and North African countries are illicit.

At least half or more of all medications used in West Africa may be sub-standard or counterfeit, a source of increasing health risks in a region that has high demand for anti-infective and anti-malarial drugs. Counterfeits can contribute to the development of drug resistant strains in some illnesses.

West Africa is a dumping ground for electronic waste, including old computers and mobile phones which contain heavy metals and other toxins.

UNODC said the European Union produces alone 8.7 million tons of e-waste a year.



Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


The rich will pay - Mpofu

The EFF in Gauteng will focus all its energy on improving the lives of the poor, the party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu says.


Latest elections multimedia

Watch what happened when we blindfolded Helen Zille and asked her to eat random things
13 days to elections - news you need to know
11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:


Treat yourself to something beautiful. You tend to put so much energy in making everything around you work harmoniously, and...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.