Last Week (17th -18th October), Nairobi played host to the 6th Pan African Conference on illicit financial flows and taxation. During the meeting, corruption was mentioned as the lead driver in enabling illicit cash to leave Africa for foreign banks.
Delegates attending the event convened by Tax Justice Network Africa in collaboration with its partners were informed that it is estimated that corruption accounts for about 5% of global illicit financial flows and the proportion of the USD 100 billion lost through IFFs from Africa is much higher.
The theme for this year's conference was "Corruption as driver of IFFs from Africa".
Africa has had a long standing history of its money being lost to foreign banks with the main culprits being Switzerland, Jersey and Cayman Islands. Swiss authorities have been formalizing the repatriation of this wealth back home.
Amandine Irigoga, a delegate attending the conference acknowledged the role Switzerland has played in the Illicit Financial Flows. "Currently participating to the 6th Pan African Conference on Illicit Financial Flows and Taxation, and during the first day only, Switzerland has been mentioned 5 times already - tax haven, fiscal secrecy, hiding stolen money from Africa. Am I proudly Swiss?"
The conference is a convening of civil society, academics, government reps, human rights activists and journalists. The Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) partners include OXFAM, FEMNET, Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU), Trust Africa, Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA), Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC), Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GTAJ) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The impact of corruption threatens the efforts aimed at promoting democratic governance, socio-economic transformation, peace and security in Africa. While the continent has experienced sustained socio-economic growth over the past two decades, the benefits associated by this growth is being undermined by the simultaneous haemorrhage of public funds through corruption and related activities.
This leaves the continent in a situation where 50% of the population lives below USD 1.90 a day; rising inequality; lack of access to basic services like education, health, water and sanitation; and rising taxation burden because of the emptying of government coffers arising from corruption related IFFs.