Thursday, May 08, 2014

The looting of Africa

Billions of pounds a year is being plundered from Africa through illegal logging and fishing that is prolonging poverty in the world's poorest continent, Kofi Annan the former head of the United Nations said.

Losses from logging amount to $17bn (£10bn) a year, while fishing fleets flouting international conventions are costing West Africa at least $1.3bn a year.

Annan says that Africa imports $34bn of food but could feed itself within five years if agricultural productivity improved.

he said “The costs of filling Africa's massive infrastructure financing gap could be covered if the runaway plunder of Africa's natural resources is brought to a stop. Across the continent, this plunder is prolonging poverty amidst plenty. It has to stop, now.”

 Illicit financial flows, often connected to tax evasion in the extractives industry, cost Africa more than it receives in either international aid or foreign investment. He said “Resources that should be used for investment in Africa are being plundered through the activities of local elites and foreign investors. And in each case African governments and the wider international community are failing to put in place the multilateral rules to combat what is a global collective action problem."

 Unregistered industrial-scale fishing trawlers unloading illegal catches are the economic equivalent of mining companies evading taxes and offshore tax havens. "The underlying problems are widely recognised. Yet international action to solve those problems has relied on voluntary codes of conduct that are often widely ignored. The same is true of logging activity, with the forests of West and Central Africa established as hotspots for the plunder of timber resources."

Annan says "While personal fortunes are consolidated by a corrupt few, the vast majority of Africa's present and future generations are being deprived of the benefits of common resources that might otherwise deliver incomes, livelihoods and better nutrition. If these problems are not addressed, we are sowing the seeds of a bitter harvest."

From the Guardian

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