Africa Is Bleeding: Illicit Financial Flows

A lot of people may not be aware of what Illicit Financial Flows are and the crippling effect they have on our nations. I will attempt to demystify the issue a little and provide an example of efforts being made to curb this bleeding.

So, what are Illicit Financial Flows? “Illicit Financial Flows are illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another. Global Financial Integrity classifies this movement as an illicit financial flow when the funds are illegally earned, transferred and/or utilised.”

How does this affect us in Africa? The Africa Union High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows and the UN Economic Commission for Africa presented a report to the 24th African Union Summit which was adopted by the African Heads of State and government. According to the High Level Panel Report, it is estimated that Africa loses between $30 billion to $60 billion in illicit financial flows each year and this is increasing at a disheartening rate of 20.2% per year, based on the Global Financial Integrity calculations for 2002-2011. In other words, that could be enough money to build a state of the art hospital in each of Africa’s 54 countries, every year. Can you imagine that?

The report highlighted a particular issue which cannot be over emphasised, the need to strengthen both national and regional structures, which can give rise to promoting financial transparency and reducing corruption. Otherwise, the loss of resources through illicit financial flows means that many governments are unable to properly support public services and provide the much needed poverty alleviation programmes. They also face significant challenges in raising finances locally to support national budgets. 

What can we do about this? The best answer I believe, lies in joining efforts with all key actors to pressure our governments to make our democracy work for us. Many civil society organisations are joining efforts to advocate against laws and policies within their countries which may give rise to loopholes which these multinational companies often take advantage of. One such campaign is the “Stop The Bleeding” campaign ( which has been launched in several African countries. You can check out their website and if the campaign is running in your country, sign the petition to lobby government to be more proactive in stopping illicit financial flows.

Illicit Financial Flows, if curbed, can instead be used as key resources to finance the development of our nations, especially as we look to implement the Sustainable Development Goals post 2015.

About The Author:
Esanju Maseka
"My fellow African youths, this process of striving to work for the
betterment of our continent starts with you and me. We are not the leaders
of tomorrow. We are leaders even today! Let us aspire to be the change that
our continent has been looking for!"