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AKINWUMI ADESINA; AfDB & FOREIGN INTERESTS – IS AFRICA IMPERILLED? – Time for a rethink by Africa’s leaders

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BLOOMBERG, an influential publication headquartered in New-York, United States had two days ago published a report under a banner headline ‘’AfDB to Review Probe Into President After U.S.-Nigeria Spat’’.  The report stated emphatically that: ‘’The African Development Bank agreed to an external review of an investigation that found no evidence of wrongdoing by its president, Akinwumi Adesina, after a shareholder dispute over the probe split the lender’s board.’’  BLOOMBERG, according to its records ‘’operates a number of offices around the world where the media arm receives data feeds from exchanges as well as from securities information processors.’’  It went further to remark that: ‘’the 60-year-old bank chief visited the capitals of countries including Ghana, Senegal and his home nation Nigeria. ‘’Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari sent his presidential jet to collect Adesina in Ivory Coast and flew him to his villa in Abuja for a meeting on June 3. ‘’There, Adesina told Buhari the ethics committee had taken three months to probe 16 allegations for which there was no evidence, while he had presented 250 pages of documents in his defense’’

CONTENT ANALYSIS: The foregoing, as reported by BLOOMBERG in its last four lines is capable of several interpretations.  Giving prominence to Adesina’s recent visit to his country of origin, and specifically to Abuja conveyed by a presidential jet provided by President Muhamadu Buhari, appears meaningless and might be inherent with mischief. It is most unnecessary and serves no useful purpose as that simple and innocuous meeting cannot nail Nigeria/Buhari/Adesina of complicity.  Akinwumi Adesina is a citizen of Nigeria, a country that supported his candidacy for the position of AfDB president five years ago. That the Nigerian government fetched Adesina from Cote D’Ivoire for full briefing at a time the global community is locked down by COVID-19 is not a big deal. The usefulness of the Buhari/Adesina briefing is reflected in an immediate announcement that Nigeria would once again back Adesina for another term of five years following satisfactory explanations rendered by Adesina at the meeting. If no convincing explanation was made the Nigerian president certainly wouldn’t have supported him for another term of five years.

That BLOOMBERG coined its report reflected above in a way that tends to taint the visit to President Buhari is understandable.  One of the controversial points raised by the whistleblowers concerns the numerous trips made by Akinwumi Adesina and a supposed “political lobbying” in favour of his re-election. “He is using the opportunities provided by these trips to meet with regional heads of state and make financial promises … to gain support for his re-election for a second term and to stifle competition”. However, Adesina accused his critics of “questioning the integrity, leadership and honesty of 16 African presidents and ECOWAS”, who gave him their support at the end of December.

Without any doubt, the United States government, given its very high penchant for protecting the rights of its citizens anywhere in the world would have done much more than the ordinary debriefing by Nigeria’s president.  America’s interests and those of its citizens matter to the country’s leaders, probably more than that of any other nation globally. Understandably, United States and a section of its media have been vociferous on the matter under reference because it has a 6.5% stake in the AfDB. If in doubt, test this assertion by attacking the interests of America or just one of its citizens anywhere in the world. Given that fact, Nigeria with the largest shareholding of 9.1% has the inalienable right to stand by Akinwumi Adesina that the nation sponsored for the coveted position of AfDB president five years ago. Nigeria supported Adesina and his second term bid because he has credible achievements to show. This is side by side the fact that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria owes it a duty to Nigerians generally to protect the interests of Nigeria and Nigerian citizens everywhere on Planet Earth.

Let us once again examine another element  of BLOOMBERG’s report cited above: ‘’ Members in October pledged to provide funding that will more than double the AfDB’s capital base to $208 billion.’’  The comments cum investigative report appears to put it to somebody that there are attempts to rubbish whatever claims have been made by supporters of Akin Adesina and the AfDB.  The publication goes further: ‘’The 56-year-old institution allowed non-regional countries to join in 1982, and now has 54 shareholders from Africa and 27 from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.’’ It is important to emphasize that in the same vein, other stakeholders certainly have the right to insist on protecting AfDB and its extant regulations by insisting that Due Process be followed in all matters concerning the AfDB. Constitutional and regulatory infractions by stakeholders are unhealthy in corporate governance, no matter the position of stakeholders. It seems odd for any stakeholder to request for the bending of extant regulations without amending laws and statutes in accordance with corporate governance principles.

THE AfDB – AFRICA’S PREMIER FINANCIAL INSTITUTION:  For the avoidance of doubt, The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is a multilateral development finance institution, comprising three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the parent institution, and two affiliates, the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigerian Trust Fund, (NTF). Publications on the website of the financial institution indicate that: The AfDB Group is Africa’s premier development finance institution. The overall objective of the AfDB Group is to support the economic development and social progress of African countries individually and collectively, by promoting investment of public and private capital in projects and programs designed to reduce poverty and improve living conditions. Combating poverty is at the heart of the Bank’s efforts to assist the continent to attain sustainable economic growth. The Bank Group therefore strives to mobilize internal and external resources to promote investment and provide technical assistance to the Regional Member Countries (RMCs). Additional resources are usually mobilized through co-financing with bilateral and other multilateral development agencies as well as from the financial markets. This is the major reason why AfDB welcomed 25 non-regional members starting from 1982.

PROPRIETY: Investigations reveal that the admission of foreign nations as members of AfDB is not a novelty. AfDB is one of the five multilateral development banks in the world. The others are the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IAfDB) also have a similar policy. The AfDB and the World Bank have a very close relationship, especially with regard to partnership and financing. However, the AfDB remains totally independent of the World Bank. The Non-African/Non-regional member countries are:  Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America. They were admitted as members from 1982 The Bank Group has 80 member countries, comprising 54 regional member countries (RMC) and 26 non-regional member countries (NRMC). The non-regional member countries are primarily from Europe, America and Asia.

CLARIFICATIONS: Beyond the foregoing, the emerging scenario calls for caution. Precedents are accorded due considerations in corporate management and governance procedures generally.   The Judiciary, in most cases relies on precedents to determine matters brought before the arbiters.  BLOOMBERG’s report revealed that the African Development Bank’s topmost authorities have announced its decision that the Ethics Committee arrived at its position in accordance with relevant guidelines. Writing under the caption: Nigeria: Breather for Adesina As AfDB Board Bars Recent Probe – NEWPAPER24 went further to disclose that: ‘’The Bureau of the Board of Governors of the African Improvement Financial institution (AfDB) has foreclosed the potential of reopening the probe of the financial institution’s President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.’’

ETHICS COMMITTEE UNDER PROBE: Essentially, what this means is that it is the Ethics Committee of the African Development Bank Group that is being probed on how it treated Akinwumi Adesina’s responses to its query. It is also important to know that the Board of Governors of AfDB is not bound to accept dictations and may even, at the end of the day, choose to uphold the decision of its Ethics Committee that cannot be thrown away, but has to be considered alongside the report of any independent investigator that might be appointed. But the most important concern is that this development shouldn’t be allowed to disunite Africa that the facility serves. This development if not carefully handled would not augur well for the future of Africa that AfDB serves. But of importance is the fact that unlike the situation in the United Nations Security Council, there is no Veto Power in African Development Bank Group. The interests of Africans would always be uppermost in the scheme of things.

CONCERNS: The African Development Bank Group was set up to protect the interests of the poorest region in the world.  It is based on the international order that allows States to serve the interests of their citizens by recognizing common interests and pursuing them in unity. If the integrity of the topmost organs of the bank is rubbished, that could mark the commencement of the disintegration of the organization. The foregoing suggests that any stakeholder could, even after the determination of the allegation against the Ethics Committee by the U.S also request for its own evaluation. And there are 80 stakeholders or thereabout that have vested interests in the AfDB.  Sources say it might be necessary to ask: Who are the whistleblowers and what interests are they seeking to protect/promote? In my own case, I speak as a patriotic African. It is very possible that Adesina might have stepped on powerful toes. The AfDB president has never fought shy of campaigning for the reversal of Africa’s economic misfortunes.  In his remarks at a Lecture of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in Rome, Italy, he asserted that: ‘’The secret of the wealth of nations is clear – rich nations process all of what they produce – whether in agriculture, minerals, oil and gas or services – while poor nations export their produce as raw materials.

He continued: While demand for raw commodities is elastic, demand for processed and value-added commodities is relatively inelastic. The future of food in the world will depend on what Africa does with agriculture. I am sure you must be saying did I hear right? Yes, you did. Africa holds 65% of the uncultivated arable land left to feed 9 billion by 2050. Its’ vast savannas are the world’s largest agriculture frontier, estimated at 400 million ha. But only 10% of this is cultivated. That’s a mere 40 million hectares. Africa accounts for 75% of the world’s cocoa production, with 65% of this being produced in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, but the continent is a price taker and receives only 2% of the $100 billion annual revenues from chocolates globally. ‘’The reason is because Africa exports just raw cocoa beans. This pattern is the same for other commodities in which Africa is a major producer. Africa produces 146 million tons out of the 268 million tons of cassava in the world – or 55%, 5.4 million tons of the 5.6 million tons of cowpeas globally – or 9.62 million out of the 28 million tons of millet globally – or 43% and 29 million tons of the 69 million tons of sorghum globally – or 42%.  ‘’But producing raw materials is not enough. It is time for Africa to move to the top of the global food value chains, through agro-industrialization and adding value to all of what it produces. Would puppets of foreign interests speak and act with feelings like this?

AfDB BOARD SUPPORTS ITS ETHICS COMMITTEE: At a gathering on Thursday in Cote D’Ivoire, revealed NEWSPAPER24, ‘’the physique snubbed the unbiased investigation demanded by the US of America and upheld the choice of the financial institution’s Ethics Committee in favour of Adesina. ‘’In a communique signed by the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of Governors, Ms Niale Kaba, the Board additional determined that an unbiased reviewer ought to check out the method by which the Ethics Committee reached its determination on Adesina. It said that the Board of Governors had totally fulfilled its obligations in accepting the findings of the Ethics Committee in accordance with the stated decision.’’

The Communiqué reads:

  • “The Bureau reiterates that it agrees that the Ethics Committee of the Board of Administrators carried out its position on this matter in accordance with the relevant guidelines underneath Decision B/BG/2008/11 of the Board of Governors. “The Bureau additionally reiterates that the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of Governors carried out her position in accepting the findings of the Ethics Committee in accordance with the stated Decision.
  • “Nevertheless, primarily based on the views of some Governors on the matter and the necessity to carry each Governor alongside in resolving it, the Bureau agrees to authorise an Impartial Assessment of the Report of the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Administrators relative to the allegations thought of by the Ethics Committee and the submissions made by the President of the Financial institution Group thereto, within the curiosity of due course of.
  • “The Impartial Assessment shall be carried out by an impartial excessive caliber particular person with unquestionable expertise, excessive worldwide popularity and integrity inside a short while interval of no more than two to 4 weeks most, taking the Financial institution Group’s electoral calendar into consideration.
  • “The Bureau agrees that, inside a 3 to 6 month interval and following the unbiased assessment of the Ethics Committee Report, an unbiased complete assessment of the implementation of the Financial institution Group’s Whistle-Blowing and Complaints Dealing with Coverage must be carried out with a view to making sure that the Coverage is correctly carried out, and revising it the place essential, to keep away from conditions of this nature sooner or later.”

 PRECEDENTS: The foregoing could be interpreted as questioning decisions of the body to which administrative power is delegated to by the apex authority in AfDB — the Ethics Committee.  A precedent of lack of confidence in the Ethics Committee has been created by the latest development. It is always better for corporate organizations to consider the effects of precedents so as not to create confusion and multiple reactions that could have been prevented by respect for constituted authorities and regulations. Standing by issues already decided helps a great deal in ensuring firmness and constancy in the application of guidelines. Precedent is a decision that forms the foundation or reason for future decisions. In the case of the AfDB, the Board of Governors is the highest decision-making organ of the Bank, composed of one Governor and one Alternate Governor appointed by each Member Country. Each Governor represents his or her country and exercises a voting power proportionate to the capital subscription of his or her country. Governors and Alternate Governors are generally Ministers of Finance, or Economic Planning, Central Bank Governors, or other high-ranking officials. They serve for a term of five years, subject to termination and reappointment by the member country.

CLOUDY ISSUES: A few issues are very cloudy and require clarifications. Does AfDB respect the principle of delegation of authority and collective responsibility? What is the position of the Board of Governors and Board of Directors vis-à-vis management of AfDB by Committees of Governors and Directors since it is impracticable for 80 members to exercise direct oversight functions same time? Can the other 79 members also start making demands n AfDB concerning the matter under reference?  Does the statute that governs the AfDB permit of only one member upturning the verdict of duly constituted authorities exercised on behalf of other stakeholders appointed by 80 member countries with the full consent of all stakeholders of the bank? Do the stakeholders know of the existence of Ethics Committee and the inherent powers of the Board of Governors that is at the apex of the organization? The matter seems to me like upturning a verdict of a Supreme Court in a democracy. It is strange because I witnessed an Executive Board Session of UNESCO in 2008 in which a similar attempt was rebuffed by 58 countries that considered a matter referred to the Executive Board by the General Conference of UNESCO.  In the words of President Harry S. Truman: “If we should pay merely lip service to inspiring ideals, and later do violence to simple justice, we would draw down upon us the bitter wrath of generations yet unborn’’ A Kofi Annan assertion comes in handy here. And that is:  ‘’States need to play by the rules towards each other, as well as towards their own citizens. ‘’That can sometimes be inconvenient, but ultimately what matters is not convenience. It is doing the right thing. ‘’No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. ‘’The US has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level. As Harry Truman said, “We all have to recognise, no matter how great our strength, that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.”

EFFECTS OF CONFLICTS ON THE ECONOMY & WHY AFRICA LAGS BEHIND: Some of those decisions are so important that they need to be taken at the level of heads of state and government. Africa is widely regarded as the next frontier to drive the global economy. Stakeholders must openly identify the interests they are protecting. The World Bank puts the annual global cost of conflicts at US$100 billion. The natures of sub-regional conflicts have been described as strange and peculiar. “These conflicts are cruel, protracted, make no distinction between combatants and civilians, often have no discernable political agenda (unlike the Cold war insurgencies), and are relatively resistant to external pressure” (Hutchful, 1998, 1). From pre to post-colonial era, till the present, Africa has been afflicted by crises occasioned by wars and conflicts, most of them orchestrated and provoked by senseless and avoidable issues. Peace has at different periods eluded several nation-states with the result that enormous resources that could have otherwise been expended on development are wasted on armaments and the prosecution of civil and religious wars. My dear country – Nigeria fought a bitter and fratricidal civil war that commenced in 1967, and lasted till 1970. It was provoked by political intolerance which almost tore the nation apart. Before the Nigerian debacle, a very fierce war, engineered by foreign interests had been fought in Congo Democratic Republic. Additionally, Somalia, Chad, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia and the Maghreb nations have all tasted civil and military disturbances that have rocked several parts of the region. From available indications, all these conflicts have slowed down the development of Africa. The economic situation in Africa also would improve if the rights steps are taken by the leadership including stability of the AfDB. We now require stability and economic reconfiguration and not destabilization of the AfDB at the critical juncture of global economic disequilibrium.

MANIPULATION OF AFRICA BY OUTSIDE INTERESTS:  Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first and only prime minister was one of Africa’s leaders who made a passionate call for African unity and for its leaders to be circumspect. At the inauguration of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa on May 24, 1963, Balewa, in his speech to the gathering counselled thus: ‘’The African continent is very rich in resources but, unfortunately these resources are not developed yet. ‘’We are born at a very difficult time: we have not the necessary capital, the necessary equipment, or the necessary know-how for the development of our continent. ‘’Therefore, we find it absolutely necessary to rely on outsiders for the development of the African territories. ‘’I would like to tell the conference that we must take every care to know whom we invite to assist in the development of our resources, because there is a fear, which is also my personal fear, that, if we are not careful, we may have colonialism in a different form. ‘’Colonialism can take many different forms. ‘’Our countries can be colonized economically, if we are not careful. Just as we have fought political domination, it is also important that we fight against economic domination by other countries. I do not believe that any aid, no matter from where it comes, is without strings attached to it. Let us not fall into the same trap. If we assist any dependent territory in Africa, we must see to it that we do not attach conditions to our assistance. ‘’This is very, very important if we want to establish the solidarity of the continent of Africa, to make sure that any of the assistance we give is free.’’

SUBTLE POLITICAL & ECONOMIC MANIPULATION: Apart from manipulation of the economy of Africa, political exploitation has also impacted the fortunes of the continent negatively as world powers have really never been comfortable with a totally independent Africa. This is understandable.  The lust for power has a human trait. A foremost Nigerian nationalist, Obafemi Awolowo who had the brains and capacity to govern any country in the world asserted that: “Let us make no pretense about it, every human being loves power; power over his fellow men in the state, or in business enterprises; or failing that; power over his wife and children, and over his brothers, sisters, and friends, or, in the case of children, power over his playmates. ‘’ Of these categories of power, the desire for power over one’s fellow men is the strongest.”   Another Nigerian patriot, Olusegun Obasanjo, in his Foreword to one of by book publications on good governance declared that ‘’Africa has been exploited, and continues to be exploited by the developed world’’ In many situations, the developed world is complicit in pervasive corruption recorded in Africa. In the preface to the same publication, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Politic Affairs, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari noted that: ‘’ Generally, it is believed that Africa’s future may very well depend on the ability of leaders, elites and the general populace to evolve workable systems that would guarantee sustainable and viable cultures of governance and democracy in order to record greater development.’’

These are good reasons why Africa must be assertive in situations pertaining to Africa. In 2012, I engaged in a patriotic but unsolicited campaign for the election of Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the President of the World Bank Group, which is just one step above the position of Managing Director of the World Bank that she ably held. She never sought my assistance to do this but believed in championing the cause of Nigeria and by implication Africa. A very brilliant friend resident in California, who was conversant about the management of these multilateral finance institutions told me to forget about it. Why? He said it wasn’t time for an African to emerge. He also ruled out the possibility of an African emerging the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund within the foreseeable future. And these are the two financial institutions that pull the lever of the global economy. If African Development Bank goes same way of control, then Africa is domed. Again here, Akinwumi Adesina might only know me by name. We have never met; and we have never spoken even on the phone. But I have never loved injustice. For this reason, I have in the past saved even those who were stoutly opposed to me from victimization and oppression. I never told them I did so because it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me was preventing manipulation and acts that amount to wickedness. That is the way I was brought up.

MATTERS ARISING:  AFRICA’S FUTURE: Thabo Mbeki’s High Level panel put together by the African Union recorded stunning revelations.  The panel reasoned that contended that Africa is bleeding from Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). They discovered that international commercial transactions, including tax evasion, trade mis-pricing, over-invoicing, involve mostly multinational corporations from western countries take the largest percentage of IFFs from Africa.  In actual fact, multinational companies are responsible for 60 per cent of the IFFs and they are from western countries lampooning the state of underdevelopment in Africa. Essentially, United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, Korea, China and India are said to be major destinations of IFFs.’’ The illegal funds from Africa entered accounts in Switzerland, Britain, United States, Germany and other western countries while financial regulators looked the other way. Money stolen by corrupt office holders in some African nations ended up in British banks.  Abacha alone reportedly laundered more than $4 billion looted from Nigeria and traced to London offices of 15 banks. About £1.5 billion looted from Nigeria allegedly sat for long in British banks.”

RECAPITALIZATION OF AfDB: Non-regional members could stay on since this is the standard practice globally but Africa’s interests must not be compromised. This must not be a difficult step to be taken by patriotic and selfless leaders in Africa. First, block all avenues for Illicit Financial Flows, direct the resources to the development of infrastructure, and increase your shareholding bank with the AfDB. Studies have shown that even in modern times, Africa continues to be raped by industrialized nations that should ideally be the leading lights in helping the continent out of a depressing situation. About $138 billion is reportedly given away annually by governments in developing countries in corporate income tax exemptions. The bulk of Africa’s losses to illicit financial flows annually were through various schemes by multinational companies to evade and avoid the payment of corporate tax in their areas of operations. Findings by the African Union high-level panel on illicit financial flows showed that what the continent has been losing annually through illicit financial flows is more than what it receives in development aids from abroad or foreign direct investment combined. The panel, chaired by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, was mandated to make recommendations towards finding an end to the huge capital flight, which has deprived Africa significant funding for its development programmes.

THE THABO MBEKI REPORT: The Draft Report of the panel that was presented to the African Union Finance Ministers’ meeting in Abuja in March 2014 by a United Nations panel indicates that: ‘’At least two-thirds of all illicit financial movements involved multinationals and commercial transactions in corporate tax evasion and avoidance. The report said about 30 percent of these movements have links with one criminal activity or another, including drug dealings, smuggling or human trafficking, while another 5 percent are traced to bribery to corrupt officials. While multinational companies involved in either the continent’s extractive industries or selling commercial goods and services make huge profits from their operations, the report said their contributions to those economies by way of tax payment are little.’’ All African leaders need to read this report.  The report added that “Multinationals are depriving some of the world’s poorest countries of money vitally needed to pay for schools, hospitals, and other essential services.’’ Some of the mechanisms used by multinationals to defraud countries of tax revenues, the report said, include trade or transfer mispricing, exploitation tax treaties to stash their profits in places offering very low tax rates or harmful tax incentives.

An International development agency, Action Aid, has discovered that ‘’Corporate evasion and avoidance was unfair on smaller domestic businesses that are typically responsible for the majority of employment in Africa. The agency called on the African Union and its member governments who are attending the Abuja conference to immediately review tax treaties, which, it said, are some of the major routes through which tax avoidance usually occurs. “African governments should look to renegotiate or, if necessary, to cancel the treaties to ensure that more money is available to help improve the lives of the majority of their citizens.”  Action Aid said. “African governments should also review their tax incentives and cooperate at a regional level to develop a coordinated approach to tax competition.” Multinational companies, the agency noted, often relied on the global network of double taxation treaties or agreements, which permit citizens who earn their income in a country other than their home country, to avoid or reduce the tax they should to pay to the governments in their areas of operation. Action Aid estimates that about $138 billion is given away by governments in developing countries annually in corporate income tax exemptions.’’

IFFs MORE THAN OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE: The Global Financial Integrity director, Raymond Baker, emphasised the import of the statistics, saying “The amount of money that has been drained out of Africa – hundreds of billions, decade after decade, is far in excess of the Official Development Assistance going into African countries… ‘’Staunching this devastating outflow of much-needed capital is essential to achieving economic development and poverty alleviation goals in these countries. Continuing, Baker added that “As long as these countries are losing massive amounts of money to illicit financial outflows, economic development and prosperity will remain elusive.’’ Technically, illicit financial flow is money illegally earned, transferred or used. hese stolen funds could be deployed to addressing problems of infrastructural and other huge development challenges confronting Africa. Mbeki himself joined others in seeking concerted and broad-based actions through continental-wide political will, participation of every citizen, global partnership and cooperation among others in fighting the menace of illicit financial flows.

RESOURCE DRAIN: African Development Bank Group once conducted a study into this horrible development. Professor Mthuli Ncube, the then chief economist and vice-president of the African Development Bank alerted that amounts siphoned illegally out of Africa over the last 30 years is almost equivalent to Africa’s current GDP. According to Ncube, the development: ‘’Is holding back Africa’s lift-off of the continent, which is rich in resources. ‘’With good resource husbandry, Africa could be in a position to finance much of its own development.”Three African regions – west and central Africa (US$494bn), North Africa (US$415bn) and southern Africa (US$370bn) – accounted for 95% of total cumulative outflows over the 30-year period. In west and central Africa, outflows were driven largely by Nigeria, Congo-Brazzaville and Ivory Coast. Egypt, Algeria and Libya, saw the largest illicit financial flows in north Africa; while South Africa, Mauritius and Angola lost most in southern Africa.’’  The report urges countries to ‘’require banks and tax havens to regularly report deposit data by sector, maturity and country of residence of deposit holders to the Bank for International Settlements, the bank for central banks. ‘’To address the problems posed by anonymous shell companies, foundations and trusts, the AfDB and GIF want the authorities to require information on owners to be disclosed upon formation and available in public registries. Country-by-country reporting of sales, profits, employee levels and taxes should also be required.’’

The report calls on African countries to enter automatic exchange of tax information (AEI) agreements. “Tax evasion is at the heart of the world’s shadow financial system and constitutes a significant component of illicit financial flows,” said the report. “One way to address tax evasion is for African countries to enter into AEI agreements with the destination countries where the proceeds of tax evasion are lodged.” These are problems on hand that have reduced Africa to a passive observer in the last six decades while the rest of the world advanced economically and technologically. Africa’s leaders must come together for serious discussions on collective efforts to move the poorest continent forward. The AfDB is one of such institutions that could loyally protect the interests of Africa.

May the Good Lord Bless Africa.