Corruption-linked Capital Flight Sinks Africa
8 Apr 2006
Transparency International tells Western Governments To Help Africa Recover ‘Stolen Money’ Circulating In Their Countries.
The anti-corruption watchdog (Transparency International) released a report in Nairobi (Kenya) April 7th calling on Western governments to assist Africa retrieve part of the money swindled from the continent and invested in Europe and America. TI says it is “immoral” for Western governments to allow such funds to freely circulate in their respective countries while Africa was sinking under the weight of debt and poverty. Transparency International puts the amount of traceable ‘stolen’ money at $140 billion.
Resource-rich African countries have been plagued by poverty-related problems due to decades of bad governance, graft and chronic corruption. The net effect of these ills has been the illegal outflow of money from the continent to the secured private bank accounts of dishonest African elites and their allies in the West.
To appreciate the enormity of what TI is saying, one needs to make a simple comparison between one African country and any European one. At independence from Belgium in 1960, the Democratic Republic of Congo was seen as one of the richest nations on earth based on a survey of the natural resources she had. Years of misrule by the late president Mobutu (a Western crony) have pushed the country into abject poverty, indebtedness and civil war. Today, more than 70% of Congolese live below the poverty line compared to Belgium’s near-zero percent. Congo’s GDP per capita is $120 compared to $29000 in Belgium. In Belgium life expectancy is 79 and it is 49 in Congo, while the number of persons per physician in Belgium stand at 260 compared to Congo’s 20,000.
Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have more or less walked on the same path like that of Congo and have arrived at similar destinations. A few days ago, the WHO was lamenting the fact that medical personnel were migrating from Africa (where their services were needed most) to the rich countries. Malawi, for example has one physician to 36,000 people but has reportedly exported more doctors to Manchester, U.K (with one physician to 550 people) than can be found in the whole country. Is it not logical to say that these people are migrating in pursuit of the capital flight that has left their countries broke and unable to sustain them?
The call by TI on Western governments to help repatriate African money is most appropriate because the money went there due to their complicity, complacency or acquiescence. A UN treaty to enable the seizure of illegally acquired assets and eliminate certain aspects of banking secrecy protection came into effect last year. What is left to give teeth to the treaty is political will.
copyright 2006 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah