C4ADS Case Study

C4ADS Case Study

September 2021

C4ADS partnered with Laws.Africa to digitise African gazettes to support the disruption of illicit networks.


C4ADS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues.

C4ADS uses cutting-edge technologies to manage, integrate, and analyze disparate data from diverse languages, regions, and sources, incorporating their own field research from conflict zones and fragile states. They seek to engage with local and international audiences and produce compelling analysis on conflict and security issues. In doing so, they fill a critical gap left by traditional public sector and profit-driven institutions.

Electronic datasets allow analysts to identify transnational criminal organizations, screen activities for corruption, and recover stolen assets. The digitization of previously inaccessible electronic data, including government gazettes, is revolutionizing the role of publicly available information in disrupting illicit networks.

Lack of African Gazettes limits research

The government gazette is the official newspaper of record of important public information relating to governance, investment, commerce, legislation and regulatory reform. Despite the wealth of information contained in these publications, there is a dearth of both paper and digital archives of gazettes in many African countries.

Digitising African gazettes ensures the accessibility and longevity of these public records, which are a key source of information used by C4ADS in their work.

C4ADS partnered with Laws.Africa to digitise thousands of government gazettes for a range of African countries. C4ADS provided funding to Laws.Africa to assist with purchasing scanning hardware and paying staff to source, scan, OCR and identify gazettes. All the gazettes were then made publicly and freely available on the Gazettes.Africa website, and shared with C4ADS to support their research.

Disrupting illicit networks

The Laws.Africa gazette digitisation partnership supported C4ADS in their work to disrupt illicit networks:

  • While investigating a pangolin breeding program in one Africa country, C4ADS analysts used the national gazette of a different African country to identify a suspected wildlife trafficker as the sole shareholder of a second pangolin breeding company;
  • By synthesizing a variety of publicly available datasets (including national gazettes), C4ADS analysts are creating a comprehensive list of politically exposed persons that can be used to flag suspicious deals in government tenders, concession permits, and export licenses.
  • C4ADS analysts have used national gazettes and other publicly available datasets to provide partner organizations with information on corrupt individuals and their assets.

These initiatives—and others like them—would not have been possible without data like the gazettes that Laws.Africa has digitized and shared.

C4ADS looks forward to continuing to partner with Laws.Africa on this important work.