Mapping Criminal Governance in African Cities

This grant will allow the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), through its Organized Crime and Money Laundering Programme (OCML), to explore the causal links between weak state authority and the emergence of criminal governance structures in two cities: Cape Town, South Africa, and Dakar, Sénégal. Researchers will consider areas of the two cities where organized criminal networks have usurped the role of the state or filled a gap resulting from the absence of state capacity; explore the question of legitimacy in areas where drug lords or community gangs have come to be considered more loyal to community interests than democratic authorities; and examine the efficacy of various responses to encroachment of criminal governance into urban public spaces.

The research stems from the conviction that policymakers and international partners need to understand the criminal economy sustaining criminal governance regimes in order to reduce their influence and pre-empt their relocation to other cities at risk. The findings will feed into the broader conversation about the political and social foundations of state-building, and how a variety of state and nonstate actors, licit and illicit enterprises, and formal and informal institutions collude, overlap and share power to shape African cities.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Sunday, July 10, 2011

End Date

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


36 months

IDRC Officer

Thioune, Ramata Aw

Total funding

CA$ 500,000


Senegal, South Africa, South of Sahara


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Charles Goredema


Institute for Security Studies

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website