Sub-saharan Africa

It is estimated that 16.36% of the estimated total 29.8 million people in modern slavery are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the largest of the regions measured for the Global Slavery Index, and also holds the greatest diversity in terms of the risk of enslavement.

Mauritius leads the region in stability and the protection of human and worker rights, but is eclipsed by South Africa and Gabon in terms of the extent of policies on modern slavery.

The high prevalence measured for such countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mauritania reflect centuries-old patterns of enslavement, often based on colonial conflicts and injustice exacerbated by contemporary armed conflict.

Ongoing conflicts, extremes of poverty, high levels of corruption, and the impact of resource exploitation to feed global markets all increase the risk of enslavement in many African countries. Child and forced marriages are still tolerated in the context of informal or ‘traditional’ legal systems in many countries.