Illicit trading in Africa’s forest products: focus on timber

It is estimated that between 50%-90% of Africa’s trade in tropical timber and products is illegal which has a significant negative impact on any national economy. It is well-documented that economic activities operating outside the law impact the economy, exacerbate poverty and worsen the quality of forest management. It is in this context that the African Development Bank (AfDB) believes that Africa requires financial resources to address the problem, some of which can be raised by plugging the holes in the illicit trade of natural resources, especially timber. The international criminal police organization (INTERPOL) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimate that natural resources valued in the range of $91-$258 billion are being stolen by criminals every year, depriving countries of revenues and critical development opportunities. Illicit activities include the harvesting, transportation, purchase, and sale of natural resources in violation of national laws. The natural resources considered in this paper are forest products with an emphasis on timber.