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African Development Bank – We’re banking on you to help close Africa’s Tax Gaps!

Friday, May 27, 2016 - 23:22

Great news from Lusaka this week, where the African Development Bank was holding its annual meetings. The Bank’s President Akinwumi A. Adesina today promised to push ahead with tackling illicit financial flows! We think that’s great news for tax justice and specifically our work to tackle tax justice in and by Africa!


The theme for this year's meetings has been Energy and Climate as well as the launch of the 'High Five' priorities that will define the programmes of the Bank. The five areas are Light Up Africa, Feed Africa, Integrate Africa, Industrialise Africa and the promise to lift the well-being of the African citizens.

ActionAid and other Zambian and international civil society voices have been calling on the Bank to step its work on stopping illicit financial flows. This was one of the things that CSO’s called on the Bank to do when we met earlier this week.

According to the African Union’s ‘Thabo Mbeki’ report, Africa loses $60 billion a year and has lost one trillion dollars over the last fifty years, to illicit flows which in turn means an effective haemorrhaging of tax revenues from countries across the region. Unfortunately however, when money leaves illicitly it generally also means that money is not being taxed, so governments are losing huge revenue streams.

So we’re really excited to hear today that President Adesina is stepping up work, including a meeting where Finance Ministers were requested to share plans and strategies that are being taken to STOP the out flows. The Bank is also setting up an interactive web site so that we can all see what governments are actually doing in this area and that way, we can push our governments to do more if need be.  The President is hoping to build up CSO capacity too, so that we can do even more to hold governments to account on illicit flows.

The African Development Bank was set up to promote investments that are likely to contribute to economic and social development in Africa. It does that by financing and offering technical assistance to African governments. Unlike the African Union, the AfDB is not an explicitly political body, but it does of course reflect the politics of those who fund it. Right now, 40% of the voting rights are held by donors and critically, the strongest three members of the bank overall are the EU (excluding the EU Member States) and the USA, plus Nigeria. The meetings are a place for the board of governors – countries and donors - of the AfDB to meet and take major decisions about the leadership and direction of the Bank. So it’s been really important to make sure issues like tax dodging are high on the agenda in this week's discussions between the Bank, African governments and its non-African donors. 

The Bank's annual meetings were being held in Lusaka, Zambia this year - have a look at #AfDBAM2016 to get some of the Twitter coverage.


 We definitely agree with the Bank’s President when he said: Africa is Impatient for Change!