The November 2019 Risk Bulletin of Illicit Economies in Eastern and Southern Africa presents four reports from the region, which, taken together, show how money laundering and drugs markets can infiltrate legitimate industries (in this case, taxi industries in Kenya and South Africa); demonstrate the corrosive effects of assassinations and targeted violence; and track new trends in regional drug markets.

In Tanzania, results from a new drug price survey show how heroin markets now extend from the coastal areas where they first took root. Across the region, drug profits are one of many illicit flows that criminal entrepreneurs seek to launder through the grey economy, like the private mass transit industry that has arisen in the region’s towns. Though Johannesburg and Nairobi are almost 4 000 kilometres apart, two reports in this issue show that there are striking parallels in how a vital service – urban commuter transport – has become deeply enmeshed in money laundering, extortion and, in the South African case especially, violent competition. The history of how these transport systems have developed shapes these criminal dynamics. Both cases raise challenging questions about how the state can regulate the sector to rein in criminal practices that put drivers, commuters and the economies of both cities at risk – especially as state actors themselves play a role in protecting criminal elements in these industries.

Our story from Mozambique sheds light on the recent tragic assassination of an election observer and exposes a facet of assassinations that contrasts with their role in the South African taxi industry, namely how targeted killing is deployed to suppress political opposition and silence civil society.

Sign up to read every month

Photo: UN Photo/B Wolff – Iringa, Tanzania