African sources of data

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Efforts are underway throughout Africa to improve data collection and dissemination. In 2019, for example, the SADC Regional Trafficking in Persons Data Collection System was launched in Southern Africa. Journalists and members of the public, however, do not have access to the database. Even with this aggregation system in place, however, most incidents are not reported.

Other challenges include the problems of data capture – human trafficking may involve kidnapping, but not all crimes of kidnapping are related to human trafficking. Unpicking aggregated statistics from national police bodies can be impossible.

Some data does exist: such as the tables in this report looking at the period 2014-16 in the area.

Africa in the CTCD reports

As discussed in the last topic, the CTCD is a relatively new agency working to make international data around human trafficking more easily available. Even so, the CTCD reports are very limited in their coverage of African victims. There are over 3 500 cases in the CTCD relating to victims of African origin, out of a total of nearly 50 000 records covering two decades.

This reflects the challenges of data capture and the relatively slow response of local governments to improve reporting. There are no African nations rated Tier 1 in the US State Department’s annual TIP Report, for example, which includes policy and interventions in its rankins. Conversely, there are seven ranked Tier 3 or Special Case.

The majority of entries in the CTCD data for Africa record cases related to forced labour, local to the region of origin of the victim.

Data from CTDC


NGOs and government statistics

(Image from UNDOC)

The situation around recording quality data may be improving. In 2016, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) announced a plan to co-ordinate policy making and data sharing via the SADC Regional Trafficking in Persons Data Collection System. This data is not yet available for the public to use. An overview of the system and what it records can be found here

Local NGOs may also be useful sources of information, data and contacts with anti-trafficking initiatives. Some examples include the Salvation Army and A21. Trade unions and organisations that work in related areas, such as gender-based violence, may also help.

Academic institutions and think tanks

Annual police statistics may include aggregate data for crimes such as kidnapping, but they may not record specific instances of human trafficking. Experts in academia and thinktanks, such as the Institute for Security Studies, may be able to assist with interpreting specific data at the national level and trends across a region.

Universities such as the University of the Free State, University of South Africa, University of the Witswatersrand and University of Pretoria all employ specialists in the field who may be able to help with research.

Code for Africa

Code for Africa and partner organisations are working hard to improve the quality of reporting and data on the issue around the continent. If your newsroom is working on human trafficking stories and you would like to share information with the network, please contact us at