East Africa should brace itself for increased terrorism, money laundering, carjacking, drug and human trafficking, smuggling of weapons, poaching and piracy, warns Interpol.
Summing up the security situation at the just ended East African Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (EAPCCO) general assembly in Arusha, Tanzania, Interpol Secretary General for East Africa, Jean-François Gadeceu pointed out that having one of the fastest growing economies in the world is a magnet for criminals who are finding ways to tap into the fortunes.
Mr Gadeceu, said that criminal enterprises were looking at Africa as their target for generating profit.
“In the middle of these two opposing scenarios; one made of prosperity, growth and innovation for the greater good and the other made of fear and violence, is a message to you the police leaders to work closely with Interpol,” he said.
He cited attempts by a cybercrime gang to siphon cash from M-Pesa accounts which the Kenya police foiled last December. However, Safaricom admitted that it had already lost Ksh20 million ($200,000) to the criminals.
Mr Gadeceu said Interpol had successfully carried out joint operations with EAPCCO member states, including Operation Simba involving Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda which established over 800 hits on genocide, fraud and drug and human trafficking.
The Interpol National Central Bureau (NCBs) in Nairobi has also assisted in the collection of over 8,000 DNA samples, leading to the identification of all passengers of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 032.
Addressing the assembly, Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said criminals were benefiting from poor co-operation among security organs in the region.
"The increased use of ICT and the removal of non-tariff barriers has opened the region to the global village,” he said.
He called for intensified police co-operation and development of laws in all EAPCCO member states that will allow the intelligence community to fight transnational organised crimes.
The PM cited corruption among police officers as an enabler for criminals with shelter. “Corruption must be fought at all cost, lest it delays growth and denies people justice,” he said.
The 15-member EAPCCO was established 21 years ago to implement the Nairobi Protocol in joint strategies for the management and monitoring of cross-border, arms trafficking investigations, criminal records management and training on crime and small arms related matters.
It draws membership from Burundi, Comoro, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Sudan handed over the chairmanship to Tanzania and the latter’s Home Affairs Minister, Alphaxard Lugola, will chair the EAPCCO Council of Ministers for one year.