DAKAR, Senegal (PRNewswire-USNewswire) – According to a report by the organization Global Financial Integrity, if Africa is able to stop the flow of money pouring from the continent, it would have more than enough to wipe out its external debt of more than $250 billion.
Illicit financial flows from Africa, which include money from drug smuggling, tax evasion, over-invoicing and under-pricing, is a problem that stems from collusion between governments and multinational corporations and is made worse by a lack of expertise on how to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement and by a lack of accountability.
TrustAfrica, a pan-African foundation dedicated to improving economic governance on the continent, is starting a new multi-year project with $9 million funding from the Ford Foundation to strengthen advocacy against illicit financial flows from Africa.
The project will invest in civil society organizations in ways that will increase their efforts in this area.
Ideally, civil society’s role is to advocate for appropriate policies and institutional practices that enhance transparency, accountability and responsive governance. In Kenya, for example, civil society groups have played an important role in whistle-blowing on corruption cases, as well as critiquing the national budget by preparing an alternative citizens’ budget.
However, not all civil society organizations are able to advocate due to restrictive policies and lack of capacity and skills. The aim of the TrustAfrica project is to empower civil society to improve its monitoring and advocacy across the continent.
Specifically, the project seeks to:
• Expand knowledge on the current status and dynamics around economic misgovernance across Africa
• Empower civil society organizations by giving them access to relevant data and strengthening their ability to hold governments accountable
• Foster collaboration among African institutions working on these issues and leveraging African philanthropic resources to support efforts to address these challenges.
“TrustAfrica is excited to help develop a strong advocacy network to raise awareness about this critical governance issue. Illicit financial flows have far-reaching effects on Africa’s ability to stem poverty and increase development,” said Akwasi Aidoo, executive director of TrustAfrica.
“Civil society can play a much-needed role in engaging citizens to demand governance reforms and help ensure that the money stays here on the continent,” Aidoo said.
TrustAfrica, which is led by Africans, launched the project on Jan 30 when a 13-member delegation from the organization met with a delegation from the United Nations Economic Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss collaboration.
In particular, the fund seeks to mobilize civil
society in the following manner:
• Develop a research and knowledge hub.
Using existing research publications, as well as developing its own studies to determine what currently exists and what is working, TrustAfrica will gather information in order to produce an electronic knowledge hub of information to share with networks.
• Host a high-profile meeting that will bring select people for discussions that produce actionable recommendations and
appropriate strategies to implement them.
• Engage in advocacy outreach to create greater awareness around the relevant issues. Provide grants to civil society organizations.