Could a multisectoral collaboration alter the illicit outflows narrative?
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 authorities focus on the pandemic, other actors should not be distracted. Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) has embraced innovation to remain on course and will be hosting a virtual training for tax justice advocates in Africa. This year marks the 7th Edition with the theme: Tax Justice Advocacy: Increasing Participation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Journalists through Capacity Building. This edition of the International Tax Justice Academy (ITJA), brings together participants from the entire continent drawn from the civil society, media, trade unions, policy makers and academia. Topics in this year’s session, include: taxing the digitalised economy, tax justice advocacy strategy, IFFs, and Africa’s investment regimes, financial secrecy, investigative journalism, amongst others.
Africa is endowed with significant natural resource wealth and, with good husbandry, could finance its development. There, however, exist illegal cross border movement of money and capital that threaten the continent’s sustainable development and have been growing every year. If there has been a growing recognition of the threat that Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) pose on the continent’s integrity and stability of its financial system in normal times, how
about during a pandemic?
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%.
Undoubtedly, IFFs have turned the continent to a net creditor. During the academy, TJNA endevours 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 mobilise champions of tax justice advocates with enhanced capacities to reduce IFFs.