Theme: "Tackling Illicit Financial Flows from Africa: Rethinking the African Approach".

Introduction

AFRODAD will be holding the 2020 Virtual Regional Dialogue Meeting on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs from Africa. Building on previous dialogue meetings, the 2020 meeting will be held under the theme ‘Tackling IFFs from Africa: Rethinking the African approach’. The Dialogue Meeting on IFFs is an annual event convened by AFRODAD in different African countries with the view to find lasting solutions to the problem of IFFs from Africa. In the COVID-19 context, the conference will be done virtually.

Background

It is no doubt that Africa is endowed with vast mineral resources, being the home of the world’s most valuable mineral resources such as gold, platinum, uranium, iron, copper, diamond, natural gas and oil. Paradoxically, the extraction and exploitation of these minerals has not translated into meaningful development. Africa’s failure to benefit from the extraction of its resources is attributed to both endogenous and exogenous factors. The most significant internal factors include lack of public participation in mineral resources governance, weak institutions, lack of qualified staff, inadequate pieces of legislation to curb revenue leakages from the extractives sector, corruption, lack of transparency and accountability and lack of political will. Notwithstanding the internal factors, external factors such as the global financial architecture and the influence of developed countries has also contributed to Africa’s failure to benefit from its resources. Consequently, this has resulted in the prevalence of IFFs.

The novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc and consequently, the focus of many countries has been shifted to prevent the spread of the virus. With the onslaught of the COVID-19 crisis, concerns are growing that the scale and scope of IFFs could be increasing as authorities are distracted and overwhelmed by the unprecedented economic fallout. Such concerns are especially acute in developing countries, many of which are already characterized by poor governance, weak regulatory oversight and corruption (GFI, 2020). In the wake of the economic fallout from the current pandemic, all of these dynamics are intensifying, driving up the imperative to illicitly moving wealth out of developing countries. IFFs pose a threat to the integrity and stability of the global financial system especially those of African countries. There is growing concern on a number of issues surrounding IFFs. These issues include the definitions of IFFs and what actually constitute IFFs. The various definitions and components of IFFs brings out issues of the legality, morality of IFFs. Some of the mechanisms of IFFs are not necessarily illegal but are morally not right. In terms of measuring the scale of IFFs, various figures have been thrown around. This is probably due to the observation that different methods and components are included in calculations hence different figures.

Given that IFFs are complex and secretive, there is need to investigate on the exact ways in which IFFs happen. This may probably give a true picture of the scale of IFFs and its potential negative effect to Africa’s development. The perpetrators of IFFs continue to use advanced ways of siphoning financial resources out of the continent. For example, due to advancements in technology, some companies and individuals have used digital platforms to evade tax, acquire, transfer and use funds illegally. Furthermore, mechanism such as debt repayments have also facilitated capital outflows. An analysis of the exact mechanisms of IFFs is key for the drafting and implementing tailor made solutions to curb IFFs from Africa. Given the gravity of the implications of IFFs on domestic resources mobilisation (DRM) and on developmental initiatives such as SDGs and Vision 2063, a number of initiatives have been implemented to curtail IFFs. At the continental level the most visible is the High-Level Panel Report on IFFs (Mbeki Report) published in 2011. The Report outlines what African countries and external actors ought to do to curtail IFFs. Since its release, there has been need to take stock of what African countries have achieved in terms of adopting and implementing suggested recommendations. An analysis of the current efforts to curb IFFs particularly on the weaknesses and gaps in the current African governance frameworks to curb IFFs is also key in finding lasting solutions to the problem of IFFs. Against this backdrop the purpose of the conference is to have discussions on how IFFs operate in practice, how they affect development, take stock of what countries are doing to curtail IFFs and how countries should move forward.

Conference objectives

Specific objectives of the conference are:

1. To sensitise and capacitate participants on the forms of IFFs, measurement and the size of IFFs and the practical operation of IFFs in Africa.

2. To establish the link between IFFs, debt and inequality in Africa.

3. To ascertain how countries have fared in terms of implementing the recommendations of the High-level Panel on IFFs from Africa.

4. To proffer practical recommendations on curtailing IFFs based.

Proposed topics

1. Forms, measurement and scale of IFFs in Africa.

2. Acquisition and transfer of IFFs flows from Africa

3. The link between IFFs and social protection.

4. The nexus between IFFs, debt and inequality.

5. Blended finance and tackling of IFFs in Africa.

6. Current efforts to curb IFFs: Weaknesses and gaps in the current African governance frameworks to curb IFFs.

7. Review of the Mbeki Report: Next steps for Africa.

Methodology / Structure

Given the COVID-19 context, the conference will be conducted virtually via webinar. A presentation where the presenter will share his/her screen will be made and participants will be awarded time for comments and questions. Each session will constitute 2 presentations.

Expected outputs

1.  PowerPoint slides on the key message from each presentation.

2. A video recording of the presentations.

3.  A workshop report which includes discussions on the ideas and information shared on taking stock of the progress, successes, existing and new challenges and opportunities in the fight against IFFs from Africa and participants' future steps in strengthening a network of CSOs involved in the fight against IFFs.

Date and Place

The IFF conference is expected to take place from the 3rd to the 6th of August 2020 via webinar.

Contact Persons

1. Rangarirai Chikova [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

2. Michael Zuze [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

3. Jean Millimouno [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

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