By Kizito Sikuka
The level of financial losses that Africa continues to lose from illegal activities and dealings in the mining sector is undermining sustainable development in the continent.
“Our resources are being unjustly taken away from us to develop and improve other economies outside Africa,” TrustAfrica Programmes Director, Briggs Bomba said at the inaugural Africa Forum on Mining that is being held in Accra, Ghana from 13 to 16 November 2019.
He said these illicit financial flows (IFFs) deprive Africa of vital tax revenues that could be spent on social services such as healthcare, education and basic infrastructure development including road and rail.
In fact, a recent study commissioned by the African Union (AU) estimates that the continent has lost more than US$1.8 trillion to illicit activities between 1970 and 2008 alone, and continues to lose resources valued at up to US$150 billion annually through illicit capital flight, mainly through tax evasion, corruption, mispricing of goods and services by multi-national companies.
Bomba said it is time for all stakeholders to work together in addressing the scourge of IFFs, and ensure that African mineral resources are used to develop economies of African countries.
It was also critical for national governments and the civil society to join hands and speak with one voice on the IFFs as conflicting statements on the matter will hinder efforts to curb the malpractice.
This is in light of the fact that governments and civil society usually issue contradictory reports and figures on what is being lost through IFFs or its causes.
“We need a multi-stakeholder approach to addressing IFFs out of Africa,” he said, adding that such a collective methodology between the state and non-state actors on IFFs has the capacity to yield positive results.
Bomba also said it was important for African governments to consider and actively involve the local community in negotiating mining deals with foreign investors.
Such engagement is critical since the local community is directly impacted by any mining activities, hence the community should benefit more from the extraction of resources that reside in their territory.
The inaugural Africa Forum on Mining, which is running under the theme “Africa Mining Vision at 10: looking back, moving forward” aims to take stock on how the continent could fully utilize its mineral resources to finance its development agenda.
The meeting is organised by the African Union Commission in collaboration with various partners such as UNECA, UNDP, AfDB and the Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.