from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS – AFRICAN countries must synergise policies and make the most of information and communication technologies (ICT) to curb illicit financial flows from the continent, estimated to deny the continent over US$88 billion yearly.
Public service experts and government officials called for cooperation against the menace during the just-concluded Africa Union’s (AU’s) eighth Africa Public Service Day in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The discussion was premised on a United Nations Economic Development Report (UNEDR), based on last year’s findings, that Africa is losing “tens of thousands of dollars” through illegal financial flight annually.
This is 3,7 percent of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Funds are lost through corruption, externalisation, terrorism, smuggling, tax evasion, under-invoicing and other vices like hacking.
Senzo Mchunu, South Africa’s Minister of Public Service and Administration, said countries in the continent must close off illicit funds flows by synergizing policies and facilitating trade among themselves.
“The billions that are being lost are a result of lack of trade among ourselves in the continent. People from overseas find it easy to legitimately or even illegitimately get in. This results in currency flight,” he said.
“We need to continue trading among ourselves and enrich each other. Not that we don’t have to trade with the outside world but we should start among ourselves,” Mchunu said.
Africa has since implemented the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) although some countries are yet to embrace it.
He also said efforts must be upped to retrieved wealth that is stolen and stashed abroad.
“That money belongs to Africa and should develop Africa,” the South African minister said.
Participants, including Georges Scott of South Africa, said investing in ICT and security was important to enhance to avoid hacking, which is a rising method used by cyber criminals to carry out their acts.
“Africa loses $88,8 billion annually to illicit flows. This has an adverse effect on the continent. We need ICT in developing digital forensic skills to track and recover lost money,” said another participant at the meeting.
Prof. Paul Mavima, the Zimbabwe Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare concurred.
“We need strong ICT developments to be able to carry forensic systems that protect our wealth,” he said.
The host country has since constituted the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) whose mandate is to fight these vices in the country.
Zimbabwe has grappled externalisation of funds, sometimes by officials within government and cartels.
This has deprived the country of US$1 billion.
The government announced that nearly $300 million had been repatriated, with plans to recoup funds offshore amounting to $680 million.
– CAJ News