June 30, 2015 By Gabriel Benjamin in Nairobi
Africa loses about $50 billion each year through illicit activities of multinational companies and rich individuals, participants at a three-day Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) conference, organised by Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) a Pan-African organization based in Nairobi, in conjunction with the University of Cape Town, were told last week in Nairobi, Kenya.
Conference participants were intimated that the resources, if retained in the continent, could be invested in productive sectors of the economies of African states to lift the continent’s growing population from under-development and poverty.
The conference, which was aimed at strengthening the appreciation of finance and development reporting in Africa and the challenge of IFF, with regards the agenda for economic transformation, brought together twenty-five journalists from across Africa, experts from TJN-A, Third World Network-Africa (TWN-Af), Africa Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), and Trust Africa, with support from the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ).
Speakers at the conference, including CEO of Trust Africa, Dr. Tendai Murisa; TJN-A Executive Director, Alvin Mosioma; FEMNET’s Dinah Musindarwezo; Christian Freymeyer from Financial Transparency Coalition; and TWN-Af’s Gykye Tanoh, called on governments in Africa to take action to stop money from leaving the continent by saying: “NO to tax incentives, NO to BAD and UNFAIR deals, and to urge foreign companies to pay workers better wages, pay their taxes, and bring back Africa’s social amenities”.
“IFF is more than simply a conference; it is a call for saying goodbye to all unfair deals and saying yes to transparency in Africa,” noted Dinah Musindarwezo from FEMNET.
The conference also paid particular attention to the contribution of journalists and CSOs in the fight against IFF, their efforts to curb it at national, regional and continental level, and the need to critically appraise findings and recommendations of President Thebo Mbeki’s ‘High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa’, which reported that the continent lost about one trillion dollars ($1 trillion) between 1980 and 2008.
At the end of the conference, a campaign titled ‘STOP THE BLEEDING was launched on the shared Africa IFF campaign platform with participants pledging their commitment to take the message to their respective countries.
Speaking at the launch, Joel Akhator Odigie from the ITUC-Af said, “Africa is not sick. We can get it right. We have so much, yet [we are] poor. Let us say farewell to corporate social responsibilities. Aids and donations are not real charity; it is a conduit. We need to structurally transform our economy. Sustainable Development Goal is attainable. Let them pay their taxes and stop the bleeding.”
The extractive sector has been identified as the most looted across Africa. In Sierra Leone, there has been excessive use of tax havens, and signing of shady deals between government and multinational companies. Also, mining companies have not been reporting profits despite rapid growth in mineral exports before the Ebola outbreak. As at 2011, only one of the major mining firms in the country was paying corporate income tax, the Africa Rising report reveals.