By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has taken steps to commence the implementation of its â€˜Strategic Framework and Action Plan for the Prevention of Illicit Financial Flowsâ€™ in Africa, which was approved in April 2017.
The first pillar of the strategy is anchored on strengthening the capacity of the bankâ€™s regional member countries and regional economic communities to fight illicit financial flows.
Speaking in Abuja Tuesday at a workshop on â€œThe Role of the Parliament in Combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa,â€Â AfDBâ€™s Senior Director for Nigeria,Â Ebrima Faal,Â noted that since the approvalÂ of the strategic framework and action plan a year ago, the bank had organised and participated in a number of conferences and workshops aimed at building the capacity of regional stakeholders in the area of anti-illicit financial flows work.
â€œThis workshop in Abuja will be the first in a programme of workshops designed for parliamentarians, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and the related ecosystems in Africa,â€ he said.
He listed the objectives of the workshop to include a review of the challenges and learn from the good practices adopted by experts in their fight against illicit financial flows; to share experiences in recovering the proceeds of crime from criminals; and to explore the role that parliamentarians can play in facilitating the work of the practitioners.
â€œIt is our fervent hope that at the end of this week, the ideas and knowledge we exchanged in this workshop will enable you to chart a clear way forward to address the challenges of illicit financial flows in the constituents that you serve,â€ Faal added.
He observed that the role of parliaments in promoting economic recovery and sustainable development was a fundamental one, adding that they have the constitutional mandate to both oversee government and to hold government to account.
â€œBut they also play a primary role in promoting good economic and financial governance through effective oversight of the public budget and expenditure management.Â It is a vital democratic institution serving as a bridge between the state and society.
â€œIn carrying out its legislative, oversight and representative roles, parliaments help strengthen good governance for enhanced growth and poverty reduction.Â In this regard, the African Development Bank is committed to support the capacity building of African parliaments, to help strengthen their oversight function. In this regard, we hope to leverage parliaments and parliamentarians to promote good economic governance in our regional member countries,â€ he stated.
According to Faal, Africaâ€™s sound growth prospects are increasingly underpinned by generally improved macroeconomic policies, moderate external debt, political stability, and good governance, adding that fewer conflicts and more democratic institutions, had also provided better clarity for investors as evidenced by the recent improvements in the continentâ€™s ranking in the ease of doing business.
The AfDB, he said, strongly supports Africaâ€™s economic efforts, including efforts to stem corruption, improve transparency, and strengthen fiscal consolidation and efficiency.
The AfDB chief stated that estimates on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) are highly disparate due to differences in methodologies, stressing that current estimates suggest Africa could be losing more than US$50 billion annually in Illicit Financial Flows.
â€œThis is about the same size as total FDI (foreign direct investment) or total remittance flows and slightly higher than overseas development assistance (ODA). But these estimates may well be lower than actual outflows as accurate data do not exist for all African countries, and some discrete forms of illicit financial flows are excluded and therefore not easy to track, let alone estimate,â€ Faal said.
In February 2015, the high level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa chaired by a former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, launched its final report at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In the report, the panel disclosed thatÂ Â Africa lost in excess of $50 billion annually between 2000 and 2008, with the level of illicit financial outflows from the continent in excess of the official development assistance to the continent of about $46.1 billion in 2012.