The African Union’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa venue of the ongoing African Union Summit. PHOTO/Jacoline Prinsloo/EPA
By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
As national leaders meet at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa this week, a group of civil society experts has issued a set of recommendations to address illicit financial flows (IFFs), an issue of critical importance to regional development.
TitledAccelerating the IFF Agenda for African Countries(the Accelerated IFF Agenda), the purpose of the document is to highlight for African leaders fourteen steps that can be taken to jumpstart efforts to address IFFs.
Among the recommendations are suggestions to establish a multi-agency approach to fight IFFs, to collect information to identify corporate ownership, and certain tax-related measures.
Robbing the African continent of more than$70 billion per year, IFFs represent one of the largest problems facing Africa today. The international community has already recognized IFFs as a major impediment to development, incorporating reduction of IFFs into the Financing for Development Conference’sAddis Ababa Action Agendaand the United Nations’Sustainable Development Goals.
Likewise, the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa published awatershed reporton the subject in 2015, and the ambitiousAfrican Union Agenda 2063highlights the importance of eliminating illicit flows as a key way to increase domestic resource mobilization.
“Development experts have identified domestic resource mobilization as the most crucial ingredient in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals,” noted Global Financial Integrity PresidentRaymond Baker. “Illicit financial flows are corrosive to development efforts and curtail the ability to capture domestic resources. It will require energetic and concerted action from governments to fix the problem and the Accelerated IFF Agenda identifies effective steps to kick-start the process. ”
Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa (right), dances with former President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania at the gala dinner hosted by Ethiopia and South Africa during a previous African Union summit. Photo/Elmond Jiyane/EPA
“African agency is critical to invent a future without illicit financial flows,” said Donald Ideh, Project Director on TrustAfrica’s Nigeria Anti-Corruption and Criminal Justice Reform Fund.
Jason Rosario Braganza, Deputy Executive Director of Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) in Kenya, added that “The accelerated IFF agenda for African countries comes at a time where there is vacuum in global leadership on the issues of IFFs.
The 14 point agenda integrates fundamental political and institutional steps that African governments and African multilateral agencies have begun taking to curb IFFs from the continent.
The Accelerated IFF Agenda is timely as African governments take up the mantle of leadership intrack it, stop it, get itin order to further the continents’ development agenda.”
Donald Deya, Chief Executive Officer of the Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) commented on one way in which the Accelerated IFF Agenda addresses governance and accountability concerns and why the African Union should take note of the document in its discussions this week.
Global Financial Integrity led civil society civil society experts in issueing a set of recommendations to address illicit financial flows (IFFs).
“The AU has taken a lead role in recognizing the problem of IFFs on the continent,” he stated. “It can take a step further by including IFF-measures in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), stating loud and clear that good governance means addressing IFFs. I am in Addis Ababa this week to commence this discussion with government representatives, on behalf of our colleagues.”
“Many IFFs arise from corruption within countries,” added Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Center (CISLAC). “Establishing open procurement systems, using common, accessible approaches like the Open Contracting Data Standard, ensure that a government is not contributing to the theft of its people’s future.”
Jean Mballa Mballa, Director of the Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement Endogène et Communautaire (CRADEC), spoke about the group’s plans for outreach in the coming months, stating that:
“We look forward to discussing this list with senior government officials and civil society groups in all African countries. Some countries may already be working on some of these actions but have yet to embrace others. Nonetheless, each is a critical precursor to more advanced actions to combat illicit financial flows.”
The group of experts represents organizations based in Africa and the United States. A full list (with contact emails) is provided below. Funding for the endeavor, which will include outreach to governments, civil society groups, the media and lawmakers, is provided by the government of Sweden.
You can either BECOME A SPONSOR or MAKE A CONTRIBUTION
Nelson Mandela once said: “A critical, independent, and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.”
If you like our journalism support us to continue bringing you groundbreaking and agenda setting stories.