Africa is not poor, rather it’s being poorly managed. The traditional narrative about the continent, especially in the west that African countries are poor and only survive on western aid is not true, according to a new report.
In fact, this so-called aid is making Africa poorer. In 2014, a study conducted by a coalition of NGOs, and published by the Guardian, revealed that western countries use aid to hide the “sustained looting” of Africa.
The study showed that Africa loses nearly $60 billion a year through tax evasion, climate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies on the continent. The continent receives $134 billion each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid from western countries, but $192 billion leaves the continent each year, the 2014 study revealed.
A new report published by campaigners for social justice has confirmed what the 2014 study discovered. According to this latest report, Africa ‘subsidizes’ the rest of the world to the tune of $41bn every year.
The study titled ‘Honest Accounts 2017’ was authored by Global Justice Now, the Jubilee Debt Campaign and other activists. Just like the 2014 study, the researchers of this latest report compared money going in and out of Africa.
They discovered that the total amount going into sub-Saharan Africa (made up of 48 countries) each year is $161.6bn, while the total amount going out is $202.9bn. This leaves Africa a shortfall of $41.3bn.
The outflows included debt repayments by governments and the private sector, multinational company profits, the ‘brain drain’ effect, illegal logging, fishing and poaching, and costs associated with climate change. The researchers said all these activities milking Africa are carried out by Europeans, Americans and the wealthy from Asia.
According to details of the report, sub-Saharan countries in Africa received a total of $19.7bn in aid, but paid $18bn in debt repayments. This means aid entering Africa is not free, as it is being portrayed.
Africans living in the diaspora send about $32bn in personal remittances, but multinational companies took $32.4bn in profits and “illicit financial outflows” – linked to misreporting the value of imports and exports – totaled some $67.6bn, the report revealed.
Furthermore, illegal fishing on Africa’s waters, logging and the trade in endangered animals and plants by unscrupulous people from the rest of the world cost the continent an estimated $29bn every year.
Global Justice Now activist Aisha Dodwell said it is time for the world to stop the looting of Africa’s resources. She explained the looting has stalled development and increased poverty across Africa.
“There’s such a powerful narrative in Western societies that Africa is poor and that it needs our help. This research shows that what African countries really need is for the rest of the world to stop systematically looting them,” Aisha said.
Professor John Weeks of the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London, who has studied the exploitation of Africa by foreigners for 20 years now, said the report confirms the long-standing evidence that wealth was flowing out of Africa to other parts of the world, specifically to America and Europe.
“The greater part is legal, allowable as the result of deregulation of foreign exchange markets and weak central bank oversight and monitoring, all strongly encouraged by International Monetary Fund and World Bank lending policies,” he wrote in an email to The Independent.
The report has attracted attention in Africa. Many activists on the continent say they will press governments to implement policies to ensure that the future wealth of the continent benefits citizens and not foreigners.