What Can Be Done About Africa’s Capital Losses?


We should have highlighted this back in the fall, but failed to do so. The Association of Concerned African Scholars (ACAS) released a fantastic series of articles titled, “Africa’s Capital Losses: What Can Be Done?” The series is edited by Léonce Ndikumana and James Boyce, members of the Task Force’s Economist’s Advisory Council, and includes articles by Global Financial Integrity and Task Force Director Raymond Baker, as well as Tax Justice Network’s John Christensen and Nicholas Shaxson. From the introduction:

“In their 2011 pathbreaking book, Africa’s Odious Debts: How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled a Continent, Léonce Ndikumana and James Boyce demonstrate the systematic draining from Africa of resources by this global system, in which rich individuals and large companies hide income and assets from public scrutiny and from taxation by transferring them across borders. Africa’s situation is aggravated by its vulnerability in the world economy, by the weaknesses of African states, and by the misguided assumption that this pattern stems only from the personal corruption of African leaders. In fact, despite the many differences between the rich countries of the West and developing countries in Africa, the same structural realities and the same institutions are implicated in the “fiscal crises” of Europe and North America and in the failure of African states to capture and channel sufficient resources to development.

We asked Ndikumana and Boyce to put together this special issue of ACAS Bulletin, titled “Africa’s Capital Losses: What Can Be Done?” The goal of this Bulletin is to provide a better understanding of the ways capital is lost and the measures that can be taken in Africa and in rich countries to stem this hemorrhaging of resources.

The issue of illicit financial flows is moving higher on the agenda of Western countries and the international community more generally. Notably, mechanisms that have been developed for tracking flows associated with drug smuggling or support for terrorism turn out to be precisely the same mechanisms needed to track resources sent across national borders to evade the tax authorities of both rich and poor countries. This is creating new opportunities to address illicit financial flows of all kinds.”