Frank Okyere

Statebuilding, Local Governance, and Organized Crime in Mali

Leveraging Local Knowledge for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in Africa. Ed. Andrea Ó Súilleabháin


Countries in the Sahel region are among the poorest in Africa, sitting at the periphery of the development spectrum, and at the heart of an expanse that is confronted by a complex web of state fragility, internal conflicts, and humanitarian, governance, and security challenges, including cross-border crime, increased threats of terrorism, and all forms of illicit activities. 1 Instability in the Sahel has culminated in multiple security challenges for several states in the region. Coupled with easy availability of weapons emanating from the crisis in Libya, these complexities have deepened “unholy alliances” in the Sahel region, which have created an enabling environment for multiple criminal enterprises that pose serious threats to states and populations at large. 2 Mali illustrates the convergence of terrorism and transnational criminal networks and the impact of this nexus on stability and statebuilding. Mali also typifies the nature of many African states, with authorities limited to metropolitan areas and with vast ungoverned or “alternatively” governed spaces, consequently marginalizing large areas of the population and opening up opportunities for exploitation by criminal networks.