Economic Development in Africa Report 2020

Tackling Illicit Financial Flows for Sustainable Development in Africa

In the aftermath of the current coronavirus disease pandemic, African countries will need to intensify their resource mobilization efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The multidisciplinary methodology adopted in the Economic Development in Africa Report 2020: Tackling Illicit Financial Flows for Sustainable Development in Africa is geared towards tackling the relationship between illicit financial flows and the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in Africa.

This inclusive approach integrates a gender lens and gives voice from multiple vantage points to various actors, from civil society to firms doing business in Africa. Building on established measures of illicit financial flows, new insights are provided on country estimates of export misinvoicing on the continent and specific characteristics of mineral commodities are highlighted.

Some of the motivations and root causes of illicit financial flows are also underscored in the report.

The key priority actions identified in the report, published ahead of the fifteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to be held in Barbados, can be taken at the national and multilateral levels. As part of the recommendations made, African Governments are urged to define an agenda for Africa in the reform of the international taxation system. Finally, it is contended that combating illicit financial flows through tangible and coordinated actions at the global level, and within Africa, presents an opportunity for rekindling confidence in the effectiveness of multilateralism.

.... [T]he fact remains that the funds involved [in illicit financial flows] often come from jurisdictions with scarce resources for development financing, depleted foreign reserves, drastic reduction in collectable revenue, tax underpayment or evasion and poor investment in-flows.

His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari
President of Nigeria


.... [I]llicit flows rob Africa and its people of their prospects, undermining transparency and accountability and eroding trust in African institutions ...

Mukhisa Kituyi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD