Timeframe: 2020 - 2026
Donor: German Federal Foreign Office
Stronger law enforcement cooperation for a safer Africa
AFRIPOL is an independent mechanism of the African Union (AU) and a key stakeholder in the area of international police cooperation and in the fight against transnational crime.
As a regional police organization, AFRIPOL provides a framework for police cooperation at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels in all African states. The INTERPOL Support Programme for the African Union in relation to AFRIPOL (ISPA) assists AFRIPOL in developing its functions across the continent.
The programme started in 2020 for an initial period of three years until March 2023 (Phase 1) and was extended until December 2026 (Phase 2).
Longstanding cooperation between INTERPOL and the African Union
INTERPOL and the African Union work side by side on matters of joint interest, sharing resources and expertise, and developing combined responses to Africa’s policing needs. This ongoing cooperation was formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the AU and INTERPOL in 2011.
A further cooperation agreement signed with the AU in 2019 identifies complementarity between INTERPOL and AFRIPOL, avoiding duplication of efforts amongst common member countries and promoting synergies.
The ISPA Programme supports AFRIPOL to strengthen its position as the lead institution in Africa for preventing and combating transnational organized crime, terrorism, cybercrime and financial crime.
Specifically, the programme promotes the development of AFRIPOL’s capabilities through operations and investigations, criminal analysis and the exchange of information, knowledge, and best practices.
These activities help AFRIPOL to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of police across Africa by assessing crime threats, harmonizing police methods, and fostering good governance, in line with national policies.
The ISPA Programme provides support to AFRIPOL under five outcomes:
- Strengthening AFRIPOL’s governance framework by providing strategic, operational and legal advice, as well as support on data protection;
- Improving AFRIPOLs’ capabilities to disrupt criminal networks engaged in terrorism, organized and emerging crime, cybercrime and financial crimes;
- Establishing AFRIPOL’s information systems and enhancing communication by providing technical support and extending access to INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure global police communications system;
- Supporting AFRIPOL’s Criminal Intelligence Analytical Unit (CIAU) by providing technical equipment as well as tailored training and mentoring programmes;
- Building AFRIPOL and INTERPOL common member countries’ capacity by assessing needs and priorities and organizing workshops.
Under the auspices of Operation Nervone, INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Directorate, Group-IB, and third-party stakeholder Orange exchanged intelligence to track down a notorious cybercrime group, known as OPERA1ER. This organized criminal organization targeted financial institutions and mobile banking services with malware, phishing campaigns and large-scale Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams. The operation was supported by AFRIPOL and ISPA representatives.
April – July 2023
Africa Cyber Surge Operation II
INTERPOL and AFRIPOL coordinated an operation to help combat cybercrime across 25 African countries. 14 suspected cybercriminals and 20,674 suspicious cyber networks were identified as part of this joint action. Intelligence sharing and international cooperation helped law enforcement agencies prevent, investigate and disrupt cyber extorsion, phishing, business email compromise and online scams.
May – June 2023
INTERPOL and AFRIPOL jointly organized Operation Flash-WEKA,to combat the smuggling of migrants, the trafficking in human beings and other related crimes in Africa. The operation took place in two phases and allowed the arrest of 1,062 individuals as well as the rescue of 823 human trafficking victims.
Installation of AFRIPOL's data centre
The installation of this data centre will help strengthen AFRIPOL's operational capacity and facilitate regional security cooperation. Installed in AFRIPOL’s headquarters, Algeria on May 17, this critical infrastructure will help enhance information exchange capabilities under the African Police Communication System (AFSECOM).
March – April 2023
Operation TRIPARTITE Spider
14 terror suspects were arrested and explosives seized during a counter-terrorism operation led by INTERPOL and AFRIPOL. The operation involved police, customs, border forces and counter-terrorism experts. INTERPOL’s global criminal databases helped law enforcement agencies in the participating countries to locate, intercept and stop criminals trying to cross borders.
December 2022 – October 2023
Purchasing cyber equipment and software
We purchased a range of hardware and software equipment to support cybercrime and cryptocurrency investigations. This included user-friendly digital forensics and cryptocurrency software, as well as hardware for first responders to cyber incidents, crime scenes and battlefields.
We also carried out a series of training sessions and workshops to support beneficiaries on the use of this equipment.
The Programme supported the improvement of AFRIPOL and INTERPOL member countries’ cybercrime investigation abilities and shall continue to do so during Phase 2.
December 2022 – July 2023
Field missions and expert consultation meetings
Field missions were organized to help curb the smuggling of illicit goods in transit containers. The primary objective of these visits was to promote cooperation between INTERPOL National Central Bureaus, AFRIPOL National Liaison Offices and relevant law enforcement agencies operating at seaports.
The visits were carried out as follows:
• Benin, Ghana, and Niger: 12 – 20 December 2022
• Nigeria: 6 – 8 February 2023
• Togo and Burkina Faso: 20 – 24 March 2023.
Following these field visits, INTERPOL and AFRIPOL conducted an expert consultation meeting on the smuggling of illicit goods in transit containers in Accra, Ghana between 11 and 12 July 2023. Participants shared intelligence on the challenges and lessons learnt regarding the investigation of this crime.
July – October 2022
A counter terrorism operation coordinated by INTERPOL and AFRIPOL enabled frontline police across Africa to identify suspected terrorists and seize dangerous and prohibited goods. This joint operation highlights the importance of enhancing cooperation and security for African countries. Operation FLASH-PACT marked the first counter-terrorism operation conducted by the two organizations since the establishment of AFRIPOL in 2017.
July – November 2022
Operation Africa Cyber Surge
INTERPOL and AFRIPOL joined forces to detect, investigate, and disrupt cybercriminal activities across Africa. Participating countries were able to improve cyber security by securing vulnerable critical infrastructure and reducing the risk of potentially catastrophic attacks. The operation not only united African member countries in a unified cybercrime operation but also fostered trust and valuable partnerships with other stakeholders.
June – November 2022
Operation WEKA II
Nearly 700 victims of human trafficking were rescued in an INTERPOL-led operation. Results yielded a total of 300 arrests, including 88 suspected traffickers and 83 migrant smugglers. Some 100 additional arrests were also made for other crimes such as document forgery, firearms and drug trafficking, highlighting the interlinked nature of organized crime groups. Operation WEKA II received support from multiple partners including AFRIPOL.
INTERPOL’s mission to AFRIPOL Headquarters
Our first mission to the AFRIPOL Headquarters in Algiers underlined the strategic importance of cooperation between INTERPOL and AFRIPOL as key to strengthening security in the African continent.
Between 15 February - 1 March, teams from the two organizations took part in discussions, technical workshops and large-scale planning exercises covering all aspects of the ISPA programme, including data protection, legal questions, and operational pillars.
December 2021- March 2022
The first pan-African police operation jointly coordinated by INTERPOL and AFRIPOL targeted the global trade in counterfeit pharmaceutical products amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This operation revealed the use of fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates and the illegal distribution of genuine COVID-19 vaccines. Ongoing analysis of Flash-IPPA seizures and arrests triggered associated investigations linked to pharmaceutical crime groups operating in Africa.
September 2021 - August 2022
Joint meetings for all 5 sub-regions of Africa.
An initial series of joint meetings between INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) and AFRIPOL National Liaison Offices (NLOs) were organized between 2021-2022. This unique platform helped facilitate coordinated action between the two organizations, ensuring interoperability between different police systems to avoid duplication of channels.
These meetings were organized separately for each of the five African sub-regions (Central, East, North, West, and Southern) and involved the Heads of the four INTERPOL Regional Bureaus in Africa.
INTERPOL’s mission to AFRIPOL Headquarters
INTERPOL ISPA programme’s first mission to the AFRIPOL Headquarters in Algiers confirmed the strategic importance of cooperation between INTERPOL and AFRIPOL as key to strengthening security in the African continent. Over two weeks (15 February to 1 March 2022), the ISPA and AFRIPOL teams took part in discussions, technical workshops and large-scale planning exercises covering all aspects of the programme, including data protection, legal questions and operational pillars.
The Steering Committee – co-chaired by Executive Director of AFRIPOL Dr Tarek Sharif and INTERPOL Executive Director for Police Services Stephen Kavanagh – adopted a clear work plan, setting out the support INTERPOL will provide to AFRIPOL over the next six months and the longer-term priorities.