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Plugging Illicit Financial Flows in Africa

August 07, 2017 • By Gram Matenga
Participants of the round table Dialogue held in Abuja, Nigeria on 27-28 July 2017. Photo credit: International IDEA

To complement efforts aimed at plugging illicit financial flows and achieving a new development finance mechanism for Africa, International IDEA’s Africa and West Asia Programme, in partnership with UNDP Regional Service Centre, convened a two-day High Level Technical Dialogue on Public Tax and Fiscal Transparency Rules for Multinationals and Private Individuals in Africa. The meeting took place in Abuja, Nigeria from 27 to 28 July 2017.

For 25 years, globalization produced unprecedented levels of both economic growth and economic risk. African markets became more open, which allowed foreign firms and governments to invest more freely. But as African finance grew bigger, it also grew more complex. Faster-flowing capital became more volatile and economic risk harder to track. The Panama Papers show that, for Africa, tax havens are at the heart of a system that allows large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying fair taxes, depriving governments of the resources they need to provide vital public services and to tackle rising inequality. The leaks also show the complex and cross-jurisdictional nature of these shady financial facilities and transactions used to avoid or evade national taxation obligations.

For Africa to be able to finance its own development and meet its obligations under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and AU Agenda 2063, a new framework to address these systemic vulnerabilities in our regional and national oversight of financial systems has become imperative. At United Nations Financing for Development conference held in 2015, the international community agreed to establish a new development framework intended to guide and facilitate the implementation of the 17 SDGs. The conference further underscored the need for developing countries to reconfigure their financing models.

The High-Level Dialogue was attended the Special Advisor on Economic Matters to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ambassador Yemi Depeolu; Nigeria Minister of State, Budget and Planning, Honorable Zainab Ahmed, experts from various countries across Africa and Europe; and experts from UNDP and International IDEA. Participants to the high-level technical consultation examined the state of play of the current continental public tax and fiscal transparency rules for multinationals and private individuals. A draft Policy Advisory Brief for the AU and its specialized committees was developed and is expected to inform a new continental framework on public tax and fiscal transparency for multinationals and private individuals.

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About the authors

Gram Matenga
Head of Programmes, Africa and West Asia
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