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By Steve Umidha
Despite the growing awareness, developing countries continue to lose more money through illicit financial flows (IFFs) than they gain through aid and foreign direct investment – with IFFs believed to be rising at an alarming rate – 10 per cent annually.
With the onslaught of the global coronavirus pandemic, there are concerns that the scale and scope of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) could be increasing.
While focus has previously been put on legal and financial sectors to tackle the menace, experts believe individuals like journalists could help bridge the existing gap.
It is against this backdrop that the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) will be hosting a virtual training for tax justice advocates in Africa. This year marks the 7th Edition with the themed, Tax Justice Advocacy: Increasing Participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Journalists through Capacity Building.
This year’s edition is hoped will bring together participants from the entire continent drawn from the civil society, media, trade unions, policy makers and academia, with topics to focus on taxing the digitalized economy, tax justice advocacy strategy, IFFs, and Africa’s investment regimes, financial secrecy, investigative journalism, amongst others.
Despite the continent’s potential for growth, there still exist illegal cross border movement of money and capital that threaten the continent’s sustainable development and have been growing every year.
Africa is home to the world’s largest arable landmass, second largest and longest rivers (the Nile and the Congo), and its second-largest tropical forest.
According to a study by the African Development Bank Group, the total value added of its fisheries and aquaculture sector alone is estimated at USD 24 billion. Besides, about 30% of all global mineral reserves are found in Africa.
The continent’s proven oil reserves constitute 8% of the world’s stock and those of natural gas amount to 7%. Minerals account for an average of 70% of total African exports and about 28% of gross domestic product. Even with such enormous resources, the continent’s poverty rate stands at 41%, and out of the world’s 28 poorest countries, 27 are in Africa all with a poverty rate above 30%.
The academy training by TJNA will also help to empower the target groups with skills to identify, track, and report illicit outflows from the continent.
While there is dependence on the academia and research institutions for publication of scientific studies, it is the role of the civil society to advocate for increased transparency around public revenues and expenditures.
The media should invest in improving their skills for in-depth investigations and expose such abuses not only as a means of defending the resources, but also for concrete action to be taken. Trade unions are expected to take advantage of their presence in every country in the continent and explore possibilities of collaborating with non-state actors to combat IFFs in Africa.
It is envisaged that the academy will strengthen alliances, enlighten stakeholders, and mobilize champions of tax justice advocates with enhanced capacities to reduce IFFs.