Violent extremist groups and illicit economies in West Africa

What is the nexus between armed groups and illicit economies in southern Mali and northern Benin?

As violent extremism increases across the Sahel and spreads south into West Africa’s littoral states, illicit economies are sustaining terror groups’ operations and finances. In southern Mali, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) is exploiting opportunities for timber logging, cattle rustling and illicit taxation. In northern Benin, the group uses various types of kidnapping – primarily for strategic rather than financial gains.

This seminar explores the different but often overlapping objectives of violent extremist groups involved in illicit economies.

Simultaneous English-French interpretation will be provided.

Dr Feyi Ogunade, Regional Organised Crime Observatory Coordinator – West Africa, ENACT, Institute for Security Studies (ISS)

Opening remarks: Representatives of ECOWAS and the European Union


  • Nanténé Seck Coulibaly, Senior Analyst, Crime and Criminality, Early Warning Directorate, ECOWAS Commission (TBC)
  • Flore Berger, Senior Analyst, Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (GITOC)
  • Dr Ndubuisi Christian Ani, Senior Researcher and Project Coordinator, ENACT, ISS
  • Dr Aziz Mossi, Researcher, University of Parakou and LASDEL, Benin
Development partners
ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies in partnership with INTERPOL and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. The ISS is also grateful for support from the members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the European Union, the Open Society Foundations and the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
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