“We are tired and we’ve had enough”: A campaign to end illicit financial flows
There’s a bustle of traffic, horns are honking and cranes erecting new buildings dot Nairobi’s growing skyline. On the surface, the Kenyan capital seems to embody the narrative of “Africa Rising”.
But on the ground, here and elsewhere around the continent, there is a growing phenomenon that is setting back growth and economic development: illicit financial flows. According to a new report from an African Union/Economic Commission for Africa panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, more than $50 billion is estimated to leave the African continent due to corporate tax evasion, corruption, and criminality.
The outflow dwarfs the amount of official development assistance entering the continent. The problem is coupled by aggressive profit shifting tactics utilized by multinational corporations to avoid taxes in the resource rich countries where they operate.
With this backdrop in mind, a group of six pan-African organizations yesterday launched the “Stop the Bleeding” campaign aimed at raising public awareness to push for changes to a global financial system that is complicit in allowing more than $50 billion to leave the African continent every single year.
“We are tired and we’ve had enough,” said Tendai Murisa of Trust Africa, one of the organizers of the campaign. “But we can’t do this on our own, the task is a huge one.”
Trust Africa is joined in the campaign by the Tax Justice Network – Africa, Third World Network – Africa, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), the Africa Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa).
The launch comes less than a month before the UN Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa. Among the topics to be discussed at the summit is the creation of an intergovernmental tax body that would give developing countries an equal seat at the table when it comes to drafting new global standards on tax, illicit flows, and corporate transparency. Currently, new global standards are being drafted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 34 rich countries.