Region Highlights

With 51 countries and 16 percent of the world’s population, Africa is enormously diverse in terms of history, development, people, culture, and religion. This regional study summarises a longer set of findings that can be found in the Global Slavery Index: Africa Report. 

Prevalence within Africa

On any given day in 2016, an estimated 9.2 million men, women, and children were living in modern slavery in Africa. The region has the highest rate of prevalence, with 7.6 people living in modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the region.

When considering the forms of modern slavery, the rate of forced marriage (4.8 victims per 1,000 people in the region) was higher than the rate of forced labour (2.8 victims per 1,000 people in the region).

Over half of all victims of forced labour exploitation (54 percent) were held in debt bondage, with similar proportions of men and women in the region trapped through debt. An estimated 400,000 people in the region were victims of forced sexual exploitation, accounting for eight percent of all victims of forced sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation of children worldwide.

Within the region, Eritrea, Burundi, and Central African Republic were the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery; however, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the highest absolute number and accounted for over one-quarter (26.3 percent) of all victims in the region.

These regional figures, while important, should be interpreted cautiously given the gaps and limitations of data in certain countries. For example, it is not possible to survey in countries that are experiencing profound and current conflict, such as Libya, South Sudan, and parts of Nigeria. The lack of data from countries experiencing conflict means that modern slavery estimates in these countries are likely to understate the problem.1

Table 1Estimated prevalence of modern slavery by country, Africa
Regional Country Estimated prevalence (victims per 1,000 population) Estimated absolute number of victims Population
1 Eritrea 93.0 451,000 4,847,000
2 Burundi 40.0 408,000 10,199,000
3 Central African Republic 22.3 101,000 4,546,000
4 Mauritania 21.4 90,000 4,182,000
5 South Sudan 20.5 243,000 11,882,000
6 Somalia 15.5 216,000 13,908,000
7 Congo, Democratic Republic of the 13.7 1,045,000 76,197,000
8 Sudan 12.0 465,000 38,648,000
9 Chad 12.0 168,000 14,009,000
10 Rwanda 11.6 134,000 11,630,000
11 Swaziland 8.8 12,000 1,319,000
12 Congo 8.0 40,000 4,996,000
13 Guinea 7.8 94,000 12,092,000
14 Libya 7.7 48,000 6,235,000
15 Nigeria 7.7 1,386,000 181,182,000
16 Uganda 7.6 304,000 40,145,000
17 Madagascar 7.5 182,000 24,234,000
18 Malawi 7.5 131,000 17,574,000
19 Guinea-Bissau 7.5 13,000 1,771,000
20 Liberia 7.4 33,000 4,500,000
21 Angola 7.2 199,000 27,859,000
22 Djibouti 7.1 7,000 927,000
23 Kenya 6.9 328,000 47,236,000
24 Cameroon 6.9 157,000 22,835,000
25 Togo 6.8 50,000 7,417,000
26 Niger 6.7 133,000 19,897,000
27 Zimbabwe 6.7 105,000 15,777,000
28 Equatorial Guinea 6.4 7,000 1,175,000
29 Tanzania, United Republic of 6.2 336,000 53,880,000
30 Ethiopia 6.1 614,000 99,873,000
31 Côte d’Ivoire 5.9 137,000 23,108,000
32 Gambia 5.8 11,000 1,978,000
33 Zambia 5.7 92,000 16,101,000
34 Egypt 5.5 518,000 93,778,000
35 Benin 5.5 58,000 10,576,000
36 Mozambique 5.4 152,000 28,011,000
37 Sierra Leone 5.0 36,000 7,237,000
38 Ghana 4.8 133,000 27,583,000
39 Gabon 4.8 9,000 1,930,000
40 Burkina Faso 4.5 82,000 18,111,000
41 Lesotho 4.2 9,000 2,175,000
42 Cape Verde 4.1 2,000 533,000
43 Mali 3.6 62,000 17,468,000
44 Botswana 3.4 8,000 2,209,000
45 Namibia 3.3 8,000 2,426,000
46 Senegal 2.9 43,000 14,977,000
47 South Africa 2.8 155,000 55,291,000
48 Algeria 2.7 106,000 39,872,000
49 Morocco 2.4 85,000 34,803,000
50 Tunisia 2.2 25,000 11,274,000
51 Mauritius 1.0 1,000 1,259,000

Vulnerability within Africa

Figure 1Regional average vulnerability scores by dimension, Africa

Regional average vulnerability scores by dimension, Africa

The prevalence estimates are consistent with findings from the vulnerability measures, which suggest the Africa region had the highest average vulnerability score (62 percent). The Africa region performed relatively poorly on the governance issues, lack of basic needs, and disenfranchised groups dimensions of the vulnerability model (Figure 1). These rankings reflect the challenges that continue to plague certain countries in this region in terms of resource allocation, effective governance, and acceptance of minority groups. The Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo had the highest levels of vulnerability, while Mauritius and Tunisia had the lowest levels of vulnerability in the region.

Table 2Estimated vulnerability to modern slavery by country, Africa
Country Name Governance issues Lack of basic needs Inequality Disenfranchised groups Effects of conflict Overall weighted average
Central African Republic 85.4 50.2 62.7 58.0 81.6 100.0
South Sudan 75.7 51.1 62.9 56.1 85.7 94.7
Congo, Democratic Republic of 77.2 50.8 55.6 46.5 86.7 91.7
Somalia 80.6 56.8 49.6 22.7 88.4 89.5
Sudan 80.7 46.6 42.4 37.0 87.4 87.1
Chad 71.8 43.2 48.5 46.5 46.1 74.9
Nigeria 54.1 41.3 50.2 47.1 95.5 74.1
Libya 81.4 23.0 49.6 28.1 63.1 73.1
Burundi 72.4 42.6 42.1 48.1 41.7 72.9
Kenya 55.1 48.7 49.6 44.5 66.8 70.6
Guinea-Bissau 77.8 40.1 47.6 44.1 17.1 70.5
Cameroon 65.9 36.5 46.2 46.3 53.9 69.6
Eritrea 71.0 50.6 33.7 48.1 25.9 69.6
Congo 75.1 37.6 48.5 46.1 19.6 69.2
Zimbabwe 66.3 45.5 36.6 53.0 25.3 66.4
Guinea 68.3 32.4 54.7 46.4 28.6 66.3
Niger 61.9 41.2 37.0 45.0 50.4 65.6
Swaziland 69.9 50.0 39.4 38.8 11.7 64.8
Ethiopia 62.4 47.5 27.3 34.6 55.3 64.5
Malawi 55.4 51.5 40.9 61.5 19.1 63.4
Angola 60.2 43.4 48.2 48.5 19.8 62.3
Mauritania 67.3 33.7 39.3 50.5 22.3 62.0
Madagascar 54.4 46.8 51.0 56.8 17.3 62.0
Rwanda 56.6 40.8 40.0 55.7 34.0 61.7
Equatorial Guinea 68.4 40.8 36.7 48.5 10.1 61.7
Togo 70.0 31.5 45.3 42.3 17.1 61.3
Djibouti 66.8 38.0 33.9 48.1 21.3 61.2
Uganda 52.8 48.3 38.2 50.3 35.3 60.8
Tanzania, United Republic of 55.5 47.3 34.9 52.7 29.1 60.5
Egypt 61.6 18.4 44.2 52.8 51.1 60.4
Liberia 55.0 44.0 44.1 54.9 18.2 59.3
Gambia 66.8 28.1 41.8 44.1 20.8 58.4
Lesotho 53.8 50.7 44.6 41.9 18.6 58.3
Côte d’Ivoire 59.5 30.1 41.7 37.5 40.9 57.2
Mozambique 48.6 48.3 40.5 48.1 30.0 57.0
Mali 55.3 24.4 35.5 35.9 66.3 55.9
Zambia 45.8 54.4 44.9 49.1 13.1 55.2
Sierra Leone 50.9 46.1 41.2 48.1 18.1 55.2
South Africa 46.7 38.3 61.0 36.9 26.9 53.8
Burkina Faso 58.4 31.6 40.3 35.2 26.2 53.1
Ghana 52.6 29.1 42.0 53.7 21.6 52.2
Algeria 63.2 17.9 27.8 37.0 43.6 52.0
Gabon 56.5 27.1 36.6 47.5 12.4 49.1
Morocco 60.7 18.8 38.1 35.7 22.0 48.3
Namibia 44.6 38.4 55.9 38.8 10.4 48.1
Senegal 43.9 34.8 35.6 41.0 30.9 46.2
Benin 51.1 28.8 39.9 35.3 15.8 45.0
Cape Verde 48.7 19.7 44.1 44.1 22.1 44.5
Botswana 43.3 37.9 37.3 37.6 9.7 42.1
Tunisia 47.2 15.4 34.8 31.9 33.7 39.2
Mauritius 25.5 17.7 33.6 31.1 12.2 21.2

Government responses within Africa

While the Africa region has the lowest average regional government response score, with a CC rating, there have been significant improvements in specific countries and a trend to strengthen modern slavery legislation. Six countries have passed strengthened trafficking legislation since 2016, most recently in Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco. There are also multiple regional bodies in Africa that have been proactive in responding to modern slavery, which points to increasing opportunities to hold governments to account. Despite this, limited resources and ongoing conflict continue to hinder more comprehensive responses to modern slavery in the Africa region.

Table 3Movements in government response rating for Africa 2016 to 2018
Country 2016 Rating Change in rating 2018 Rating

South Africa

B

B

Senegal

B

B

Sierra Leone

B

B

Nigeria

B

B

Tunisia

CCC

B

Cote d’Ivoire

CCC

B

Uganda

B

B

Mozambique

B

B

Egypt

CCC

B

Lesotho

CCC

CCC

Benin

B

CCC

Morocco

CC

CCC

Kenya

CC

CCC

Algeria

CC

CCC

Ethiopia

CCC

CCC

Burkina Faso

CCC

CCC

Djibouti

CCC

CCC

Mauritius

CCC

CCC

Gambia

CCC

CCC

Rwanda

CCC

CCC

Namibia

CCC

CCC

Botswana

CC

CCC

Tanzania

CC

CCC

Madagascar

CC

CCC

Zambia

CCC

CCC

Liberia

CCC

CCC

Mali

CC

CCC

Angola

CC

CC

Swaziland

CCC

CC

Ghana

CC

CC

Malawi

CC

CC

Niger

CC

CC

Cameroon

CCC

CC

Gabon

CC

CC

Togo

C

CC

Cape Verde

C

CC

Guinea

C

C

Zimbabwe

CC

C

Congo, Democratic Republic of

C

C

Guinea-Bissau

CC

C

Chad

CC

C

Somalia**

C

Mauritania

CC

C

Sudan

CC

C

Congo

CC

C

Burundi

CC

C

Equatorial Guinea

D

D

Central African Republic

C

D

Eritrea

D

D

Libya**

D

Seychelles***

*Countries that scored -1 on a negative indicator could not score above a BBB rating
**Not rated in 2016 Global Slavery Index
***Included for the first time in 2018, therefore a rating is not provided. All data are available via the Global Slavery Index website

Table 4Government response rating, milestone percentage, and total score by country, Africa
Rating Country Support survivors Criminal justice Coordination Address risk Supply chains TOTAL
B South Africa 53.7 61.7 43.8 57.1 0.0 47.4
B Senegal 49.6 43.9 56.3 54.8 0.0 47.1
B Sierra Leone 53.7 37.8 50.0 54.8 0.0 46.2
B Nigeria 58.9 53.3 50.0 47.6 0.0 45.8
B Tunisia 53.0 31.7 43.8 57.1 0.0 44.3
B Côte d’Ivoire 34.4 36.7 43.8 66.7 8.3 42.4
B Uganda 48.1 51.7 37.5 54.8 0.0 42.0
B Mozambique 57.6 49.4 31.3 42.9 0.0 40.7
B Egypt 37.6 30.6 62.5 64.3 0.0 40.1
CCC Lesotho 35.9 37.2 56.3 42.9 0.0 38.3
CCC Benin 30.6 31.7 56.3 52.4 0.0 37.7
CCC Morocco 6.5 56.7 31.3 71.4 0.0 36.5
CCC Kenya 35.7 38.9 37.5 59.5 0.0 36.5
CCC Algeria 29.4 47.2 37.5 45.2 0.0 36.3
CCC Ethiopia 27.8 51.1 56.3 47.6 0.0 36.3
CCC Burkina Faso 38.1 30.0 43.8 42.9 0.0 35.7
CCC Djibouti 30.4 42.8 31.3 47.6 0.0 35.3
CCC Mauritius 43.7 38.9 0.0 50.0 0.0 34.9
CCC Gambia 25.0 48.3 37.5 40.5 0.0 33.9
CCC Rwanda 36.9 41.7 43.8 54.8 0.0 33.6
CCC Namibia 34.1 27.8 18.8 54.8 0.0 33.3
CCC Botswana 32.2 45.6 37.5 45.2 0.0 33.2
CCC Tanzania, United Republic of 37.2 41.7 25.0 47.6 0.0 32.8
CCC Madagascar 38.7 52.8 18.8 50.0 0.0 31.8
CCC Zambia 33.3 34.4 25.0 40.5 0.0 31.8
CCC Liberia 28.0 26.7 31.3 50.0 0.0 31.7
CCC Mali 38.9 35.6 50.0 28.6 0.0 30.8
CC Angola 31.5 13.9 43.8 54.8 0.0 29.5
CC Swaziland 36.3 18.3 37.5 47.6 0.0 29.3
CC Ghana 24.8 33.3 37.5 40.5 8.3 27.6
CC Malawi 33.1 23.9 43.8 33.3 0.0 26.8
CC Niger 29.1 35.6 25.0 35.7 0.0 25.9
CC Cameroon 26.7 24.4 18.8 50.0 0.0 25.4
CC Gabon 27.8 11.7 31.3 33.3 0.0 24.2
CC Togo 28.7 21.1 31.3 21.4 0.0 23.6
CC Cape Verde 23.5 16.1 25.0 33.3 0.0 22.9
C Guinea 8.7 10.6 37.5 50.0 0.0 19.3
C Zimbabwe 11.7 17.2 43.8 35.7 0.0 19.0
C Congo, Democratic Republic of the 25.9 24.4 37.5 14.3 0.0 18.9
C Guinea-Bissau 7.4 31.1 31.3 21.4 0.0 18.9
C Chad 16.7 13.9 12.5 40.5 0.0 16.7
C Somalia 8.1 20.6 25.0 35.7 0.0 16.0
C Mauritania 6.5 25.0 18.8 35.7 0.0 15.5
C Sudan 2.8 26.7 25.0 33.3 0.0 14.9
C Congo 8.3 6.7 25.0 42.9 0.0 14.8
C Burundi 22.2 11.1 12.5 26.2 0.0 10.7
D Equatorial Guinea 3.7 12.2 12.5 26.2 0.0 8.6
D Central African Republic -3.7 0.6 12.5 21.4 0.0 2.5
D Eritrea 0.0 -1.1 0.0 21.4 0.0 -2.0
D Libya 0.0 21.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 -2.5
No rating Seychelles2

Footnotes

1International Labour Organization (ILO) & Walk Free Foundation 2017, Methodology of the global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage, ILO, p. 78. Available from: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—ipec/documents/publication/wcms_586127.pdf. [31 January 2018].
2Seychelles was included in our assessment of government responses in 2018, however as this was the first year we collected data for this country we did not include its rating in the GSI. Data collected can be found in the database at https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/data/.