By Victoria Ojeme – New York
The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that African countries have lost about $70 billion worth of resources to illicit financial flows every year.
The Minister who spoke with our diplomatic correspondent exclusively at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York, spoke extensively on the problem of illicit financial flows in Africa.
The event organised at the United Nations Headquarters saw Nigeria’s President and other African Heads of State including Zambia and Ethiopia in attendance.
Onyeama said that a large number of participants took part in the conference and discussed illicit financial flows out of Africa and the anti-corruption steps taken by the Nigerian government.
“We engaged very robustly in this session and really articulated to the global community Nigerian priorities and look to also show some leadership of Nigeria and to attract support from the international community,” the minister said.
Illicit financial flows cost African countries at least $50 billion every year, more than the total sum of development aid the continent receives, according to a 2018 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, OECD.
According to the estimates of the high-level panel of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, these illicit flows have been increasing since the start of the century, when they stood at less than $20 billion a year.
Each year, tax evasion causes developing countries to lose more than the total amount of aid they receive.
Focusing on West African states, the OECD mapped the criminal activities that cause illicit financial flows, from medication smuggling to human trafficking. The OECD argues that the total financial cost of the flows is significantly higher because of the effect these activities have on the development and the stability of the countries concerned. Cocaine trafficking is used to “intimidate or corrupt public officials”, while stolen vehicle trafficking finances terrorism.