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AI Hope for Combating Human Trafficking in South Africa Amidst Challenges

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

In the wake of the movie, “The Sound of Freedom,” conversations surrounding human trafficking have garnered attention across South Africa. Nonetheless, the question remains about what effective action can be deployed to combat this deep-rooted issue. An anti-human trafficking NGO believes artificial intelligence might formulate part of the answer.



Previously operating at one of South Africa's busiest airports, this NGO has exposed systematic corruption and organised crime-related trafficking. Their primary hurdle in leveraging AI optimally, like many other NGOs, is inadequate institutional governance and lack of sufficient data management platforms.


Software like North America's Polaris Project, which manages the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, exemplifies how AI can be effectively employed if supplied with ample structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data. Information surrounding human trafficking can thereby be shared easily across various interfaces while maintaining the privacy of involved individuals.



Despite the vast potential offered by data management platforms, their inception in South Africa remains absent, underscoring the need for an integrated response to human trafficking and money-laundering issues. Both arenas involve intelligence gathering and would therefore benefit from similar tech-based approaches.


As such, an industry-wide data management platform has now been proposed helped by AI methods. This intervention is expected to ameliorate Anti-Money Laundering capabilities and reduce costs approximately to around one third of their current financial crime compliance spend, concurrently helping South Africa's fight against trafficking. Albeit this solution is faced with challenges, it aims to establish South Africa as a global leader in these critical fights.


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