Africa is losing billions of dollars through Illicit Financial Flows – Edwin Harris

By Anthony Isibor

EDWIN Harris, Director-General of the ECOWAS Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering In West Africa, GIABA, Senegal, has said that Africa loses at least $60 billion each year through Illicit Financial Flows, IFFs.

Harris, who was the Guest Lecturer at the Realnews 11th Anniversary Lecture held in Lagos on Tuesday, stated that a High Level Panel, HLP, on IFFs also stated that Africa is estimated to have lost $1 trillion or more over the past 50 years to IFFs.

Speaking on: ”The Threats of Illicit Financial Flow to the African Economy”, Harris disclosed that the continent is estimated to lose over $50 billion annually to IFFs .

According to him, this fact is corroborated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, when it estimated that Africa loses as much as $60 billion each year in IFFs.

He also recalled that that in 2020, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD in its report on Economic Development in Africa, estimated that Africa loses about $88.6 billion, 3.7 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product, GDP, annually in IFF.

Harris said that at a regional level, the scale of criminal proceeds in West Africa has been estimated at 3.6.per cent of global GDP.

”IFFs from Africa typically originates from three sources, which are “corruption, including money acquired through bribery and abuse of office by public sector and private sector officials”.

”Others are criminal activities, ranging from trafficking in people and drugs, arms smuggling, fraud in the financial sector, such as unauthorised or unsecured loans, money laundering, stock market manipulation and outright forgery, and commercial activities, arising from business-related activities, and having several purposes, including hiding wealth, evading or aggressively avoiding tax, and dodging customs duties and domestic levies.” he said.

Harris therefore urged African leaders to step up efforts in the fight against IFF in the region.

He said that this would require a collective action by all critical stakeholders, including national authorities, the private sector and civil society organisations to press for change in their countries and the continent at large.

According to him, these leaders cannot afford to watch this cankerworm that is gradually destroying the continent.

“IFF are a global phenomenon and do not respect borders. They undermine global social, political and economic security and have become a serious threat to the attainment of development agenda, particularly in Africa.

“Africa’s efforts to ensure the reduction of IFFs must be pro-active, firm and unwavering while activities that give rise to IFFs must be vigorously fought without compromise.

“The key task is to take bold steps, cooperate and coordinate efforts and unit to dismantle the system extracting wealth from Africa,” he added.

Also lending her voice to the development, Maureen Chigbo, Publisher of Realnews Magazine and the President of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP, stated that the theme of the lecture was borne out of the revelation by Auwal Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, who on Oct. 22, said that Nigeria lost $18 billion yearly to IFFs through the banking sector.

Chigbo revealed that Rafsanjani also disclosed that Nigeria is one of the 23 countries ranked as non-cooperative in the combined efforts to fight money laundering globally, since its establishment in 2003.

She called on all stakeholders to collaborate in addressing this burning issue which has resulted in dwindling revenues for African governments.


-November 08, 2023 @ 14:40 GMT |