The Centre for Democracy and Development,CDD in partnership with TrustAfrica and the Third World Network, has announced an upcoming consultative roundtable themed: “Mending the Leakages: Africa’s Battle against Illicit Financial Flows. The statement said Illicit financial flows consist of the movement of illegally transferred assets or value and funds earned through illegal activity, that is, corruption, proceeds of tax evasion, amongst others. Common practices of externalising financial illicitly include corruption by government officials and others state aligned elites, crime (drug trafficking, racketeering, counterfeiting and smuggling) and commercial tax evasion (trade mispricing).
The centre in a pre-roundtable statement said “since the beginning of the 21st century, Africa has seen a prolonged commodity boom and sustained growth trend. With this, new development opportunities and challenges have come to the fore. While Sub-Saharan Africa registered the highest GDP growth rates in over 30 years during the period 2000-2008, and rebounded quickly from the global financial and economic crises to resume its path of growth performance, the boom has not contributed towards socio-economic transformation. The sustained economic growth has not generated sufficient economic diversification, job growth or socio-economic development to create productive wealth and lift millions of Africans out of poverty.
“In a report titled: “Illicit Financial Flows and the Problem of Net Resources Transfers from Africa: 1980-2009” jointly published by Global Financial Integrity and African Development Bank in May 2013, it was revealed that, between 1980 and 2009, the economies of Africa lost between US$597 billion and US$1.4 trillion in net resource transfers away from the continent. Though, the report stressed, these transfers include both licit and illicit flows but the resource drain on Africa over the past thirty years is almost equivalent to Africa’s current GDP. Therefore, the failure of African countries to mobilise domestic resources for the benefit of the nation drains scarce foreign exchange resources, reduces government tax revenues, increases corruption, aggravates foreign debt and reduces the capacity of the government to provide public goods and services to the people. More so, it leaves African countries most vulnerable to donor conditionality; a case where the citizens of the country are not allowed to chart their own developmental journey, but must rather meet the often self-serving conditions of international aid donors.
It is against this backdrop that the Centre, in partnership with TrustAfrica and the Third World Network, will hold a two-day consultative roundtable between 25th and 26th March, 2014 at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. Our overall goal is to expand and deepen knowledge on illicit financial flows and their role in inhibiting Africa’s growth.
The Specific objectives of the proposed dialogue include: “Broaden the discussion and policy perspectives on illicit flows to include key systemic issues of resource mobilisation and African development, including:
-national and international finance systems and mechanisms for capital flows and resource outflows; forms of resource outflows including, capital flight, trade losses, intra-corporate trade mal-practices, including transfer pricing and mispricing; abuse of liberalised systems and regimes
“Catalysing synergies and a shared platform for deepening debate and shared understandings on the subject of illicit flows; including exploring opportunities for the building of a concerted advocacy movement across the region for accountable economic governance
“Exposing the practice/problem to a wider advocacy and research community
“Positioning the problem of Financial Flows in Africa’s emerging Development Agenda and African positions and advocacy in the post-2015 international Development Framework
“ Build momentum for effective and informed actions to stem the tide of illicit financial flows from the continent.
CDD said its “overall expectation from this convening is to see the emergence and enhancement of attention and actions at policy level and citizens’ organisations and actions to combat the practice of illicit and destabilising financial flows as part of orienting Africa’s development initiatives. The roundtable is targeted at policy makers within governments and multilateral institutions, researchers, activists from within civil society organisations and social movements.