Applied Political Economy Analysis of the Tema Port. (Abridged Version)

February 16, 2022

Organised crime as a concept is broadly defined as the planned and coordinated criminal behaviour and conduct by people 2 working together, wholly or in part, for financial gain.

The UK defines serious and organised crime (SOC) as individuals planning, coordinating, and committing serious offences, whether individually, in groups, or as part of transnational networks. The FBI defines a criminal enterprise or organised crime “as a group of individuals with an identified hierarchy, or comparable structure, engaged in significant criminal activity”. They often engage in multiple criminal activities and have extensive supporting networks. The main categories of serious offences or organised criminal activities covered by the term are child sexual exploitation and abuse; illegal drugs; illegal firearms; fraud; money laundering and other economic crime; bribery and corruption; organised immigration crime; modern slavery and human trafficking; and cybercrime. Organised crime presents a major threat to the global economy. In developing countries, organised crime challenges the sustenance of peace, trade facilitation, the rule of law, and revenue generation. Over the years, the strategy and nature of organised crime have evolved, making domestic and international approaches to addressing this menace more challenging. The combined effect of organised crime, illicit flows, and corruption significantly increases the risk of placing communities and nations in extreme poverty, conflict, and hunger.

Since the 2000s, the West African region has witnessed increased SOC incidences. The West African region has been identified as one of the growing destinations for illicit financial flows and organised crime. Illegal and organised crime networks in the region have been linked to North America and Europe. A significant body of literature has recently reported the expansion of organised crime activities in the subregion, albeit with little or no comprehensive state-level data to support these assertions, partly because SOC activities tend to be obscured. The lack of official comprehensive records on organised crime activities, criminal networks, and the exploited value chains also inhibit credible data. For example, a report by the African Union on tracking and identifying the hubs facilitating organised crime and drug trafficking concluded that West Africa is the central transit market for drug trafficking in Africa, with Ghana being one of the key countries facilitating organised crime and drug trafficking in the sub-region.

Ghana, often classified and seen as a relatively stable multiparty democracy, has likewise witnessed significant economic growth. Nonetheless, pitfalls in the democratic system, cracks in accountability measures, and ill-equipped law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have created opportunities for the growth of SOC in the country. The 2019 ENACT Africa Organised th Crime Index ranks Ghana 26 out of 54 African th countries and 10 in 15 West African countries for criminality. Ghana's state resilience score, which measures effective state-side response to organised the crime, ranks 10 out of 54 African countries and 4 in West Africa. While Ghana's 26th ranking on the index for criminality is below the continental average, its 16th ranking for criminal markets indicates several pervasive markets. These include human trafficking and smuggling, arms trafficking and illegal drugs trade (cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and synthetic drugs like Tramadol), and non-renewable resource crimes (fuel, rosewood, illegal mining/'galamsey'). This suggests high levels of criminal activities and a growing criminal market for illicit activities and organised crime.

Political parties and state agencies are often major facilitators of organised crime networks and activities. Compounding this is the growing number of criminal networks that use Ghana's sea borders, airports, and northern borders through to Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Foreign actors, mainly Asian criminal actors, are also known to facilitate the smuggling of gold from illegal miners and rosewood through Ghana and other parts of the region. South American cartels also support the transhipment of cocaine from Latin and South America to Accra and exported to Europe and Asia. The Tema Port is critical to Ghana's maritime competitiveness and revenue generation.

The Tema Port serves as Ghana's foremost commercial seaport, handling 84% of imported goods into Ghana and 24% of its exports. The Port accounts for 58% of Ghana's total seaborne trade by volume, with the Takoradi port accounting for the remaining 42%. Despite the recent infrastructural development, the Port continues to be a roadstead for organised crime networks through an interaction between the political settlement, power dynamics and port infrastructure (technology and system) to create formal and informal rules that make it possible for various forms of serious and organised crime to occur. Within such an entrenched system of operation at the Port, several economic value chains become vulnerable to corruption, criminality, and insider manipulation (CCIM). A combination of the drivers of CCIM and other technical and managerial vulnerabilities have resulted in significant revenue loss to the government. For instance, the World Bank and the GRA estimate that between 2012 and 2016, 34% of import taxes were unaccounted for. Nevertheless, there is a dearth of evidence of how such a significant import tax gap occurs at the Port. The long-term effect of SOC at the Tema Port is demonstrated through increased tax and economic fraud, bribery, smuggling of illicit goods, and weak SOC resilience.

Against this background, the report examines the political economy systems at the Tema Port. It assesses the underlying power dynamics and relationships that drive and enable corruption, criminality, and insider manipulation (CCIM) at the Tema Port, Ghana's main commercial seaport. The aim is to provide empirical evidence of the political economy factors that create incentives for organised crime at the Tema port and provide recommendations on complementary approaches to minimise SOC in Ghana. The report outlines entry points for interventions to support decision-making at the FCDO and its Ghanaian partners. The findings are based on quantitative and qualitative data collected through desk-based research and key informant interviews.