African countries, including Nigeria, have been advised to arrest the alarming rate of corruption and Illicit Financial Flows in order to develop and meet the Sustainable Development Goal targets.
The advice was given by the Head of Secretariat of the African Union High Level Panel on IFFs and the Working Group on Common Africa Position on Asset Recovery, Mrs. Souad Aden-Osman, during the opening ceremony of the Conference on addressing IFFs and Asset Recovery held at the Radisson Hotel in Dakar, Senegal.
The IFFs and Asset Recovery conference is holding on the margins of the 2023 Global Conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the first ever EITI global conference to be held in Africa, despite African countries being the majority among the EITI’s fifty-seven member states which meet every three years.
In her presentation titled “Tracing the Journey Towards CAPAR and Progress So Far”, Aden-Osman stated that Africa would have access to the resources for her developmental aspirations if the continent was able to stop corruption and IFFs.
She explained that the CAPAR was a policy advocacy tool and bedrock for negotiating the return of African Assets consigned in foreign jurisdiction including tracing, identifying, repatriating and effectively managing the continent’s assets as well as cultural heritage assets.
Aden-Osman further noted that the African Union High Level Panel (AU HLP) had facilitated the mobilisation and bringing together various African governmental and intergovernmental agencies, civil society organizations, and advocacy groups to implement the directives of the Assembly incorporating the recommendations of the panel
“The AU HLP on IFF and Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) will continue to advocate for more inclusive and transparent international financial and trade governance systems that are fairer for African countries, established the necessary platforms for presenting a unified African voice in this regard, and strengthen partnerships with continental and regional organizations, think tanks and research institutions.
“The AU HLP on IFFs from Africa began implementing Phase II of its work, which focuses on national level actions by African Member States. Ongoing effort to assess the status of implementation of the HLP on IFFs recommendations cover the following African Union Member States – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Tunisia,” said Aden-Osman, who is also the Executive Director of CoDA.
The Chairperson of the AU Advisory Board Against Corruption (AUABAC), Seynabou Ndiaye Diakhate, lauded the organisers of the conference and expressed the excitement of the AUABAC at having the conversation on CAPAR, IFFs and Asset Recovery during the global conference of the EITI.
“Most of the IFFs are from the extractive industry and you will feel like crying if you see the impact of IFFs and corruption on the continent. Fighting corruption and IFFs are not a task for any institution. We need to be united and coordinate our activities in order to have impact and achieve our goal,” said Diakhate, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of the AU Advisory Board Against Corruption, Mrs. Charity Nchimunya.
A member of the African Union High Level Panel on IFFs and the Working Group on Common Africa Position on Asset Recovery, Akere Muna, stressed the need for Africa to rid corruption and IFFs out of the continent.
He said, “The poorest and weakest suffer most anywhere corruption and IFFs thrive. At EITI, we have seen the complicity between government officials and extractive companies, multinational corporations, to the detriment of the citizens.”
He queried, “How is it possible that a private jet is loaded with cash and flown to some countries in Africa just to pay bribes?”
The conference on IFFs and Asset Recovery brings together policymakers, regulators, civil society organizations, industry stakeholders and the media to foster dialogue and collaboration in promoting accountability and transparent management of oil, gas, and mineral resources, scale up efforts with national anti-corruption agencies in raising public awareness, tracing and recovery of assets illicitly acquired from Africa, through tax avoidance and criminal activities such as tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.
Participants are to discuss CAPAR, the need for enhanced transparency and accountability, stricter regulations and increased international cooperation in the extractive industry. In addition, they will address the impact of illicit financial flows and the common occurrence of corruption in commodities trading. The meeting aims to remind the EITI of its role in promoting accountable and transparent management of oil, gas and mineral resources and identifying effective strategies to address the challenges faced by victim nations.
It is worth noting that CAPAR is a policy advocacy instrument aimed at assisting AU Member States to trace, identify, repatriate and subsequently effectively manage their assets, including items of cultural heritage, in a manner that respects their sovereignty and for the benefit of African peoples who are ultimately victims of illicit financial flows.
CAPAR now stands as the best tool for Africa’s legal and technical framework in structuring the managing of the return of Africa’s stolen assets from the foreign jurisdictions in which they may be held into the rightful source countries. That is why it is imperative that Africa’s assets, including financial resources lost through illicit flows, be returned to finance the continent’s development agenda as underlined in the AU High Level Panel Report on Illicit Financial Flows, adopted by African Heads of State and Government in January 2015.