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 capacity building activity for tax justice advocates in Africa. Themed Tax Justice Advocacy: increasing participation of Civil society organisations and journalists through capacity building, the 7th edition of the International Tax Justice Academy (ITJA) brings together participants from the entire continent drawn from the civil society, media, trade unions and academia.

Africa is endowed with significant natural resource wealth and with good husbandry could finance its own 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 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. In addition, 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%.  

“For African countries to stand on their feet economically and finance their own development, they need and seal the loopholes facilitating outflow of resources, at the same time encourage creative and innovative ways to finance the development agenda. We need to pull on the same side” said Alvin Mosioma, the Executive Director, TJNA. 

Undoubtedly, IFFs have turned the continent to a net creditor. During the academy, TJNA endeavors 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 for action to be taken. Trade unions should take advantage of their presence in every country int he continent and explore possibilities of collaborating with non-state actors to combat IFFs in Africa.