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    Timber Smuggling and Border Security in East Africa

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    A picture of tree cutting happening in the Congo Rain forest.

    In Africa, timber smuggling poses a significant intelligence challenge with dire consequences for environmental sustainability, regional stability, and national security. Corrupt payments at border checkpoints worsen the problem, with 90% of timber traded through Congo Park lacking legal permits. The illicit trade also spans multiple countries, with traffickers plundering protected African hardwoods. The illicit trade spans multiple countries, with Kenyan business entities benefiting significantly, overshadowing neighbouring Uganda’s involvement. Criminal groups exploit conflicts and corruption, engaging in various illicit practices, such as producing fake origin certificates. This exploitation results in the stripping of an estimated $1.3 billion worth of natural resources from the DRC. Additionally, it exacerbates violence amid ongoing civil unrest in the region.

    Key Judgment 1. It is highly likely that widespread timber smuggling across East Africa, facilitated by porous borders and inadequate enforcement capacities.

    Key Judgment 2. It is likely that timber smuggling networks, along with corruption in the region, amplify security risks. 

    Key Judgment 3.  It is likely that an intelligence-sharing framework for collaboration among regional intelligence agencies and a decrease in international demand for illegal timber will help decrease trafficking networks. 

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    Betselot Dejene
    Betselot Dejene
    Betselot Dejene is an intelligence analyst pursuing a BA in International Affairs and Legal Studies at John Cabot University in Rome,Italy.

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