BAPA+40 Side Event: Illicit financial flows and trade in Africa and the role of South-South Cooperation

21 March 2019
18:00-20:00 hrs., Sala Velez de Faculdad de Derecho (190 m walking distance from Conference site)
Buenos Aires
, Argentina

Conference segment: Comparative advantages and opportunities of South-South cooperation and sharing of experiences, best practices and success stories

Illicit financial flows (IFFs) and their costs for African economies has always been a development issue of major concern for African policy makers, more so now in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). How to address Illicit financial flows in Africa and what role can South-South cooperation play?

In a world of increased cross-border trade, finance and investment, international cooperation (including South-South and triangular) are essential in addressing the problem of illicit financial flows and illicit trade.

As Africa embarks on the AfCFTA and aims at unifying its diverse, fragmented markets into a single continental market, marked by increased intra-African trade and investment, it faces a set of priorities: addressing its huge infrastructure and related competitiveness deficits, developing its productive and industrial capacities and strengthening public and private capacities in a range of areas including customs administration and the monitoring of cross-border trade and finance.

How to finance the operationalization of the AfCFTA is a critical issue that has to be addressed at national and regional levels. Now more than ever, Africa needs all its available financial resources to operationalize the AfCFTA and reap its expected gains.

IFFs and illicit trade are a concern for Africa's AfCFTA for various reasons. To benefit from regional preferential trade liberalization, African countries need to build and diversify their productive capacities through industrialization in order to boost intra-African trade, and develop regional value-chains.

Industrialization, boosted by the AfCFTA can reduce the dependence of African countries on the exports of raw primary commodities (a major source of IFFs in Africa) and spur the development of regional value-chains but industrialization cannot happen in Africa unless challenges are addressed, especially in the area of infrastructure, trade facilitation and capacity-building.

The region will need to significantly catalyse its investment in soft and hard infrastructure in order to achieve transformative growth and structural change. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa would have to invest US $93 billion per year in order to meet their infrastructure development needs, but actual investment is only US $45 billion per year, implying a funding gap of about $50 billion a year, roughly the amount of funds Africa loses every year through IFFs.

The AfCFTA can be a catalyst for industrialization, structural transformation and formalization of informal activities, including informal trade. Africa has to address IFFs in order to divert "lost" funds into the operationalization of the AfCFTA while the latter will also help create the conditions and incentives needed to reduce the "attractiveness" of illicit activities. Domestic resource mobilization should be an integral part of Africa's agenda for deepening regional integration by operationalizing the AfCFTA and the complementary measures needed to make the AfCFTA impactful. Addressing IFFs and illicit trade should be at the heart of this domestic resource mobilization agenda.

The meeting will take the form of a 1.5-hour expert panel presentation and interactive discussions. Participants will be drawn from government, academia, civil society, private sector and the United Nations system. The meeting is co-organized by UNCTAD and the United Nations Development Program.



  • Mr. Ayodele Odusola, Chief, Strategic Advisory Unit, Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


  • Prof. Victor Harison, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, African Union (AU)

  • Mr. Sylvain Boko, Principal Regional Advisor, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA)

  • Mr. Junior Davis, Chief of the Africa Section, Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

  • Mr. Francois Ekoko, Regional Coordinator, UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) - Africa

  • Mr. Alexander Ezenagu, International Tax Researcher, McGill University/International Center for Tax and Development

  • Mr Robert Ssuuna, Policy Lead-Tax and International Finance Architecture, Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA)


  • Mr. Diego Sarrabayrouse, Chief of Staff, Financial Intelligence Unit, Ministry of Finance, Republic of Argentina to share experiences from Argentina in combatting IFFs

A cocktail will be provided between 18.00 and 18.30

UNCTAD and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

English  |    



South-South cooperation South-South cooperation



UNCTAD (lead organizer):
Ms. Bineswaree Bolaky, Economic Affairs Officer, Africa Section.
T.: +41229175692
Ms. Orria Goni Delzangles, South-South and Development Effectiveness Cooperation Specialist