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Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

  • Marthe van der Wolf

African heads of state, joined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, sixth from left in front row, and UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, third from right in front row, pose for a group photograph at the annual African Union summit held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2015.

African heads of state, joined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, sixth from left in front row, and UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, third from right in front row, pose for a group photograph at the annual African Union summit held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2015.

More than $60 billion leaves the African continent every year through illicit financial flows, and the amount keeps on growing. A report with recommendations for African countries was presented Sunday.

A new report says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of the continent each year.

The report by a joint United Nations and African Union panel focuses on the illicit financial flows used to move the money out of Africa. These flows include money that is illegally earned, transferred or used either through commercial activity, organized crime and public sector activity.

Ambassador Olusgen Apata of the High Level Panel said the report includeed several recommendations.

“It is important for African governments to understand the range of methods used in foiling illicit financial flows on the continent. Therefore African governments need to monitor very closely the commercial routes of these outflows. In this connection, African governments would need to urgently develop required capacities where they do not currently exist, establish or strengthen necessary institutions and provide resources,” said Apata.

Africa's annual $60 billion outflow comes from many different sectors, but oil and precious metals and minerals top the list.

Civil society group Tax Justice Network Africa welcomes the report and the recommendations, saying the issue is extremely serious as the illicit flows hinder Africa’s development.

Apata said corruption was a driving force behind the huge amount of illegal money leaving Africa.

“The panel defines corruption in this case as the abuse of entrusted power for private benefit. And this is not limited to the public sector, because the focus is also public sector, but it is also pervasive in the public sector as well. So it is both public and private sector,” said Apata.

The report was commissioned by the African Union and the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, and was headed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki. The African Union adopted the report during the AU Summit.

But until the recommendations are implemented by African countries, the amount of illicit financial flows is expected to keep increasing by an average rate of 9.4 percent a year.

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