INL’s West Africa regional funds support the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members in establishing and sustaining effective, professional, and accountable criminal justice and civilian security sectors. In countries with more foundational assistance needs, programs focus on reforming security and justice sector institutions. Technical assistance facilitates partner-country efforts to counter transnational threats including illicit trafficking and to strengthen conflict mitigation and state legitimacy. A key component of West Africa regional programming is promoting regional cooperation and coordination, particularly to counter transnational organized crime (TOC). Counter-TOC assistance is more advanced, and often includes training specialized units, such as counter narcotics task forces, and providing opportunities to learn and work with other countries in multinational settings.
Specific Projects and Accomplishments:
- Regional Anti-Money Laundering / Countering Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT) Training and Instructor Development Project: This project trains and mentors government officials in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Togo. Thus far, 324 participants received financial investigations training. In 2017, Eighty-seven of the newly identified trainers replicated their training to 2,937 recipients. The modules have already been included in the Gendarmerie’s curricula in Cote d’Ivoire; schools and training centers in Senegal, Mali, Togo, Benin, and Ghana have expressed interest in including the modules as well. The Governments of Mali, Ghana, Senegal, and Niger reported that 2017 convictions for money laundering and terrorist financing were obtained due to the train-the-trainers program as well as the replication by national trainers.
- Project Agwé: This INTERPOL-implemented project provides training and mentoring to Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies and first responders to investigate maritime crimes, and facilitates regional cooperation. Project Agwé has trained over 350 officers that have gone on to contribute to maritime investigations in their countries. Project Agwé has synched up its activities with the U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) exercises in the Gulf of Guinea and promotes regional maritime cooperation driven by host countries.