By Isaac Aregbesola
The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Amb Thomas Quartey on Thursday said African countries were losing an average of 50 billion dollars annually through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).
Quartey said this in Abuja at a preparatory meeting towards Nigeria’s role as the champion of the 2018 African Union theme, “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
He said the money was being siphoned through the activities of multinational companies operating in the continent who siphoned its resources through massive corruption.
“This is taking place through weak transparency and accountability mechanisms that allow tax avoidance, trade misinvoicing, abusive transfer pricing, and many other ways used to deny Africa to reap its resources dividends.
“As a result, the continent loses an annual basis, an average of 50 million dollars through the IFFs.
“These funds could be used to drive socio-economic development and structural transformation of this continent to address major problems of unemployment, inequality, poverty and underdevelopment,” he said.
According to him there is also evidence that the social, legal, political and economic aspects of development are linked, and that corruption in any one sector, therefore, impedes development in all of them.
He said that where corruption was tacitly accepted as a means of doing business efforts to improve legal and regulatory frameworks were unlikely to succeed.
He said corruption flourished in an environment where public and private sector structures such as the rule of law and transparency of proceedings failed to protect and treat fairly the various stakeholders.
“In the extractive sector, illegal logging and mining, diversion of oil revenue and illicit appropriation of public assets have emerged as the overwhelming challenges of corruption,” he added.
He said the problem of corruption in Africa could not be tackled by crafting policies, which are exclusively domestic-oriented.
“At a minimum, there is need to sharply increase the transparency of the international financial system and to augment the capacity of States, so as to place an obstacle to illicit financial flows,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olukunle Bamgbose, said the meeting was to brainstorm on the best way to consolidate common programmes and processes for continent-wide application of the anti-corruption agenda in all Member States.
Bamgbose said Africa would succeed in its anti-graft war if all countries in the continent stand as a united force, with the same vigour and commitment to combat corruption.