The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies has reported that human trafficking is a US$13.1 billion annual enterprise in Africa. This wave was identified in 2014 in the migration of thousands of Africans towards the Mediterranean. These migrants found themselves vulnerable to trafficking and other exploitative practices. Human trafficking is not limited to migration away from the continent in search of better opportunities elsewhere but also exists within the borders of the continent.
As of 2018, no African country fully meets the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). According to the US State Department’s report, the TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:
- Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
- The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
This means that a victim does not necessarily have to be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within this definition.
Ranking of African countries
Based on the TVPA guidelines, countries are put into tiers to identify their position as follows:
Tier 1: Countries whose governments fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards.
Countries in this tier: No African country
Tier 2: Countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
Countries in this tier: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia
Tier 2 Watch List: Countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, and:
- The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;
- There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or
- The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.
Countries on this list: Algeria, Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe
Tier 3: Countries whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
Countries: Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Mauritania and South Sudan
Special Cases: These are countries reported to be the most active hosts of human trafficking and other exploitative practices.
Countries: Libya and Somalia
Although they may be tiered differently based on their legislative efforts, other smuggling hubs include Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Niger. Other outliers are Mauritania, which is classified as a Tier 3 country and has one of the highest rates of enslavement in the world (Mauritania is considered “not free” by the human rights NGO Freedom House), and Comoros, which is not party to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.