UN, AU Lament Loss of $50bn to Money Laundering, Tax Evasion in Africa 

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· Say fighting Boko Haram requires more funding

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) have lamented an annual loss of $50 billion that oozed out of Africa through illegal funds, money laundering and tax evasion, among others.

Citing the rise of armed groups and international terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, the bodies said more funds would be required in enforcing peace and countering terrorism in Africa.

These are highlighted in a communique they jointly issuedWednesday after the second annual UN-AU conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia between July 9 and 10 to strengthen the relationship between the UN and AU.

Among others, the conference was equally attended by the Chairperson of the AU, Mr. Moussa Faki, and the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Ms. Vera Songwe.

As contained in the communique, the UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, urged the international community “to take action against the flow of illegal funds, money laundering and tax evasion, which cost Africa $50 billion every year”.

 “This is a responsibility for the international community to support Africa to make sure that African resources remain in Africa to support African development,” Guterres said.

But the UN chief focused on what he described as the dramatic crises in Africa, where the UN has deployed peacekeeping missions in four countries: the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali and South Sudan.

He said the rise of armed groups and international terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram, means that these operations are not involved in traditional peacekeeping, citing the need for more funding, particularly in enforcing peace and countering terrorism.

He said: “We need to understand that when African troops are fighting terrorists in the Sahel, they are not only protecting the citizens of the Sahel. They are protecting the whole world. And the world must be in solidarity with Africa, as African forces are protecting us all.”

He also called for greater support for the UN Agenda 2030 and African Union’s Agenda 2063, both of which address long-term economic development.

However, the UN chief said recent developments in Africa indicated that the continent “is increasingly moving in the direction of peace and enhanced security. But we need to collaborate in such areas as peace and security”.

“We feel a wind blowing in the direction of peace,” he said, referring to recent developments such as the historic visit by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister to rival and neighbour Eritrea, as well as peace talks on South Sudan, where conflict has raged since 2013.

He said: “All this gives us hope that the African continent will be moving more and more in the right direction in peace and security. The UN cannot afford to fail in its dealings with the continent.”

Contributing to the discussions, Songwe noted that the ECA, through the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa “is addressing the migration agenda in collaboration with IOM, UNCTAD and UNFPA.  The panel is chaired by the former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“Migration of Africans has dropped between 2000 and 2017 from 3 per cent to 2.7 per cent of total world migration. With the Free Movement of Persons Agreement which 26 countries have already signed, Africa is working to design and implement a framework for migration that supports the SDGs,” she said.

Commenting on the support to trade and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), she said migration and the AfCFTA “are key levers for Africa’s economic prosperity. As such, faster economic growth requires both institutions to work together”.