Newscast Media KAMPALA, Uganda—Sweeping measures to improve transparency and governance are urgently needed to end a scandal that has seen Africa lose an average of $1 billion every week for the past 30 years in illicit financial flows, says Oxfam.
Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima will also say today at a special public meeting of political, business and civil society leaders that this hemorrhage of Africa’s money – up to $1.4 trillion was lost from 1980-2009 according to recent Africa Development Bank figures[source], or between $50-60 billion each year[source] – requires a global solution, not solely an African one.
Fuel-exporting African countries were hit hardest, losing $732.8 billion in that period, according to the Bank. Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa were the worst affected countries across Africa’s regions.
With new mineral discoveries amounting to $11 billion in iron, oil, gas, gold and coal in Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania and Mozambique alone, according to the Africa Progress Panel[source], there is a worrying potential for a renewed surge in illicit flows from Africa.
Oxfam and the African Studies Centre of the University of Oxford are hosting the event with speakers including Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, Ghanaian High Commissioner Kwaku Danso-Boafo and Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The chief economist of the African Development Bank and representatives of Rio Tinto, the Ford Foundation and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice will also
Blueprints for resource-rich countries
Byanyima said: “The resource curse has never been so stark and, with new mineral discoveries happening every day in Africa, has never been so vital to tackle. These huge new finds could mean tens of billions of dollars of taxes to pay for schools and hospitals – but only if this new wealth remains in Africa. Too often it has ended up in Zurich not Zambia, London not Liberia.”
“We are at a turning point in genuinely opening the global extractive industries to more scrutiny and cleaning up their tax affairs. Ghana has married its new mineral discoveries with an ambitious new petroleum revenue management law. Regionally, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has begun work on a regional mining code intended to protect the rights of local communities and the Africa Union has adopted its ‘Africa Mining Vision’.
“At long last we see some solid blueprints being laid out. This puts us at square one. Now we must push for all of these exciting initiatives to be put to work for African people.”
A commitment to extractives transparency
The challenge, however, remains huge. The latest CIVICUS survey reveals that many newly-resource rich African countries remain rooted near the bottom of global governance rankings. One study of the global extractive industry[source] found that for each extra US dollar in oil exports, an additional 11 to 26 cents leaves the country in illicit capital flight. Globally, extractive industries are currently estimated to be worth around $3.5 trillion a year.
Oxfam believes the G8 made a good start earlier this year by committing to raise global standards for extractives transparency and by endorsing mandatory payment disclosure requirements and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The EU Transparency and Accounting Directives and US Dodd-Frank Act require oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to host governments down to the project level; Oxfam welcomes the UK government’s commitment to implement the EU directives in 2014. Canada’s commitment to implement mandatory payment disclosure within the next two years is also good news, and should match the standards set in the EU and US.
Self-interested policies to the detriment of African people
The Director of the African Studies Center at Oxford University, Dr Nic Cheeseman, will say that “The importance of natural resources to the African continent is growing by the year. Following recent finds of oil and gas across East and West Africa, an issue that was previously only relevant to a small number of countries is now at the top of the political agenda for many more.”
“We are no longer just talking about the classic “resource economies” – DRC, Nigeria and South Africa. In the future, the debate about the impact of oil and the resource curse will focus on Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania,” Dr Cheeseman said.
“How well African countries manage their natural resources over the next decade is the single most important factor that will determine whether or not the continent manages to sustain its fragile economic recovery.
“We must redouble our efforts to understand how African countries can best manage their extractive industries. But these efforts should not just focus on what African governments can do. Multinational companies and international governments have often pursued self-interested policies to the detriment of African people,” he said.
“Ensuring that the proceeds from oil and gas work for the people of Africa requires a new approach both inside and outside of Africa”.
From transparency to accountability
Mark Goldring, Oxfam Chief Executive who will close the event, said: “We now need the US and EU to quickly implement their own extractive industries transparency laws, and for Canada to get its law in place. Mining giants Australia and South Africa have an important opportunity to lead G20 nations by example on this issue too.
“But transparency is only effective when twinned with accountability. Companies and governments equally need to be held to account for managing Africa’s mineral riches for the benefit of African people. Foreign companies can’t be expected to fix weak governance – but they can exploit it, and many continue to do exactly that,” Goldring said.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly half of the world’s usable, uncultivated land but so far the continent has not been able to develop these unused tracts, estimated at more than 202 million hectares, to dramatically reduce poverty and boost growth, jobs, and shared prosperity.
According to a new World Bank report, “Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity,” released today, African countries and their communities could effectively end ‘land grabs,’ grow significantly more food across the region, and transform their development prospects if they can modernize the complex governance procedures that govern land ownership and management over the next decade. Africa has the highest poverty rate in the world with 47.5 percent of the population living below US $1.25 a day.
“Despite abundant land and mineral wealth, Africa remains poor,” says Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa. “Improving land governance is vital for achieving rapid economic growth and translating it into significantly less poverty and more opportunity for Africans, including women who make up 70 percent of Africa’s farmers yet are locked out of land ownership due to customary laws. The status quo is unacceptable and must change so that all Africans can benefit from their land.”
The report notes that more than 90 percent of Africa’s rural land is undocumented, making it highly vulnerable to land grabbing and expropriation with poor compensation. However based on encouraging evidence from country pilots in African countries such as Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity suggests an action plan that could help revolutionize agricultural production, end land grabbing, and eradicate extreme poverty in Africa.
An action plan for change
The report suggests that Africa could finally realize the vast development promise of its land over the course of the next decade by:
* Championing reforms and investments to document all communal lands and prime
lands that are individually owned.
* Regularizing tenure rights of squatters on public land in urban slums that are
home to 60 percent of urban dwellers in Africa.
* Tackling the weak governance and corruption endemic to the land governance
system in many African countries which often favor the status quo and harm
the interests of poor people.
* Generating the political will of African governments to mobilize behind these land reforms and attract the political and financial buy-in of the international development community.
The new report says it would cost African countries and their development partners, including the private sector, US $4.5 billion spread over 10 years to scale up these policy reforms and investments.
“Improving the performance and productivity of Africa’s agricultural sector is vital for broad-based growth, more jobs, investment, and substantially less poverty,” says Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in Africa.
“Land governance is a proven pathway to achieving transformational change and impact that will help secure Africa’s future for the benefit of all its families.”
Opportunities for change have never been better
Surging food commodity prices and foreign direct investment have increased the potential return on investing in effective land administration through higher agricultural yields and better market access and prices. Most African countries already have the basic land laws in place that recognize customary land rights and gender equality which are essential to reinforce needed reforms.
In addition, new satellite and information technologies can greatly reduce the cost of land administration. A growing number of African countries are now using these technologies to reduce the costs of surveying and mapping land and computerizing their land registries to improve efficiency and reduce corruption.
Some 26 African countries have established at least one continuously operating reference station (CORS) and about 50 CORS are contributing data to the African geodetic reference system, which, once completed, will provide a uniform coordinate reference system across the continent.
With only 10 percent of Africa’s rural land registered, inefficient land administration means that it takes twice as long and costs twice as much to transfer land compared to industrialized countries, and weak governance is the leading cause for corruption in the land sector.
The report warns that “… unless communal and individual land rights are registered and land governance is improved, the recent surge in foreign direct investment in Africa will not generate shared and sustained growth, as disruptions will likely arise from the dispossession of local communities, and investors’ deals will face severe uncertainty or collapse, as witnessed in Madagascar in 2009.”
Source: Food and Agricultural Organization and World Bank