Global Slavery Index: 1.3 Million Modern Slaves in Nigeria… Among the Highest in Africa

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Nigeria ranks 15th among 51 African countries, when it comes to the prevalence of modern slavery on the continent.

Global Slavery Index: 1.3 Million ‘slaves’ in Nigeria… Among the Highest in Africa
Image credit: Aljazeera

Nigeria is among the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery in Africa, with an estimated 1.3 Million victims in the country.

According to the new Africa Region Report: Global Slavery Index 2018, Nigeria ranks 15th among 51 African countries, when it comes to the prevalence of modern slavery on the continent.

It is estimated that 7.7 per 1,000 people fall victim to modern-day slavery in Nigeria, says the report.

According to the report Eritrea has the highest prevalence rate of modern slavery in Africa at 93 per 1,000 people, with 451,000 victims. However, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had the highest absolute number of modern slaves, 1.3 million and 1.04 million, respectively.

Mauritius had the lowest prevalence rate at 1 per 1,000 people, as well as the lowest number of 1,000 victims.

Several of Nigeria’s neighbouring countries also have a fairly low prevalence.

Ghana was ranked 38th among the African countries with a Prevalence rate of 4.4 and an estimation of 133,000 victims and Benin 35th with a Prevalence rate of 5.5 and an estimation of 58,000 victims.

Even Cameroon and Togo had a lower prevalence rate than Nigeria. They were both ranked 24th and 25th respectively with a prevalence rate of 6.9 and 6.8 per 1,000 people.

In 2017, the Walk Free Foundation and the International Labour Organisation for Migration produced the Global Estimates for Modern Slavery report, estimated that 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery on any given day in 2016.

Of this number, an estimated 9.2 million men, women and children were living in Africa. The global 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).

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According to the report over half of all victims of forced labour exploitation (54%) 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 8% of all victims of forced sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation of children worldwide.

The report further looked at African countries’ vulnerability to modern slavery by assessing governance issues, a lack of basic needs, inequality, disenfranchised groups and the effects of conflict.

Nigeria was ranked 7th most vulnerable African country to modern slavery. The country’s overall vulnerability to modern slavery was on average 74.1%, while it scored worst for the inequality category at 50.2%, For governance issues Nigeria was scored 54.1%, lack of basic needs 41.3%, disenfranchised groups 47.1% and for effects of conflict 95.5%.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s governance response rate to modern slavery remained unchanged from 2016 to 2018 at B. This is good as the rate is measured from AAA to D. Nigeria scored 58.9% for supporting survivors, 53.3% for criminal justice, 50.0% for coordination, and 47.7% for addressing risk.

According to the report the 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 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.

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“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,” the report said.

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 conflicts continue to hinder more comprehensive responses to modern slavery in the Africa region.



Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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