The Southern Stratagem: North Korean Proliferation Financing in Southern and Eastern Africa

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Southern and eastern Africa has been one of the regions targeted by North Korean proliferation financing activities. Measures to address vulnerabilities can reduce countries’ risk exposure to this threat.

In recent years, preventing the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has become an important component of broader non-proliferation and counter-proliferation efforts. This is particularly true in the case of North Korea. Over the course of more than a decade, the UN Security Council (UNSC) has applied increasingly expansive sanctions on North Korea to constrain Pyongyang’s proliferation activities and incentivise a shift in its behaviour. Many of these sanctions focus on limiting North Korean access to funds and financial services that enable its proliferation activities or that finance entities involved in proliferation activities, otherwise referred to as proliferation financing (PF).

Southern and eastern African countries have been among the jurisdictions targeted by North Korean PF efforts. This paper focuses on North Korean PF activities in countries that make up the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) – a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body that comprises Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Efforts are being made in the region to strengthen bilateral and regional cooperation mechanisms on issues of financial and other crime – for instance, through memoranda of understanding and bilateral agreements on border security. ESAAMLG is, in itself, a useful forum for sharing typologies and best practices on mitigating PF risk in the region. Countries can take a number of other measures to address their PF vulnerabilities and the gaps in their CPF regimes. Recommendations to this end and examples of good practices among ESAAMLG countries are provided within this paper.


Darya Dolzikova​

Research Fellow

Proliferation and Nuclear Policy

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Anagha Joshi

Associate Fellow; Independent Consultant

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