Africa is losing billions
Johannesburg - An estimated $50bn is exported out of the African continent illegally every year, former president Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday. "This money is exported illegally instead of being invested in the continent," he said.
Mbeki was speaking at the launch of a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) high level panel in Johannesburg.
The panel, chaired by Mbeki, would investigate illicit and financial flows of finance out of the continent.
Mbeki said the loss needed to be addressed before it undermined the prospect of Africa's development.
"Almost $25bn comes in to the continent. That means it loses twice the capital it receives in financial assistance," he said.
"The panel will study the flow of money and understand how it is done. The African continent will expect the panel to provide practical measures to stop the flow."
He said it would take a year for the panel to complete its investigation.
"This is a matter of vital importance to the continent. In the end [the investigation] should result in action taken by the continent and individual countries," he said.
"As a panel we have no punitive measures. The panel will make proposals to those with punitive power and explain how it [the flow of money] is done."
He said the panel would provide sufficient information about the different methods of the outflow.
This would include over-invoicing and under-pricing of exports and money laundering strategies.
South African President, Mr. Jacob Zuma With Former Presidents Nelson Mandela And Thabo Mbeki During Mandela's 90th Birthday Celebrations(pix: Telegraph)
"People will import an item into South Africa, and it is supposed to be sold for R10, but instead South Africans pay R30 for it - this is one of the ways to suck capital out of the continent," Mbeki said.
"In some instances mining companies will export platinum...and in the customs records they will say they are exporting tin, which has a lower price."
He said the panel was not starting work on a "blank slate" as there had been previous discussion on the financial outflow.
"We will identify the gaps that are missing and produce something that is actionable. The panel will produce a report that is credible to everybody."
The panel includes Economic Commission for Africa executive chairperson Abdoulie Janneh, Coca Cola Bottling Company's Nigeria chairperson Olusegun Apata and director of Global Financial Integrity in the United States Raymond Baker, among others.