My Address Today to Peace and Security Council: Inequality, Illicit Financial Flows and Instability in Africa

PSC inq PSC Inequality 5

Addis Ababa, 16 December 2014

Your Excellency, Chair of the Peace and Security Council

On behalf of Oxfam International, I would like to thank your Council for inviting us to address your session on Inequality, Illicit Financial Flows and Instability in Africa.

The Progress that our continent has achieved over the last decade is under threat by the rapid rising of inequality. Money, but also Power, and Opportunities are concentrated in the hands of a few, and this has reached an extreme level.

The consequences are corrosive for everyone. Extreme inequality encourages corruption fuels crime and violent conflicts. It’s wasteful for talent, potential and undermine the foundations our societies.

Homicide rates are 4 times higher in countries with extreme economic inequality than in more equal nations. Today, in many of our countries, access to justice is on sale, legally or illegally insuring impunity for the powerful.  The results are evident. The frustrated poor, mostly young people have nothing to loose… The can only get into violence or are just vulnerable to all kind of temptations.

Your Excellency;

The other issue on your agenda today which are the Illicit Financial Flows, are money from transactions, illegally removed or transfer from our countries… Money that escape public knowledge.

50% of illicit financial flows result from profit shifting by multinationals and up to 70% of those are from Extractive Industries in Africa.

Illicit outflow from Africa drags over $ 50 billion out of the continent every year. This represents about 1 billion per week.

The Africa Progress Panel estimated that $38 billion leave Africa every year through trade mispricing only… companies undervalue the prices of imports and exports so they don’t have to pay the appropriate tax.

 The Following solutions can be considered both to tackle inequality and resolve the issue of IFF:

Transparency: is a great disinfectant. It will put pressure on governments to account for how they spend the money received.

We must enact policies that force mining companies to publish payments to governments.

Some African States have been having the Right moves to manage resource wealth responsibly. Ghana for example has the Petroleum Revenue Management Act… a good example of how targeted regulation can promote shared prosperity –

The African Mining Vision (AMV)…. adopted in 2009 by the AU is not known in our continent. We need a deliberate effort to promote it and encourage member states to implement it.  In a long term, we must make it a binding document for all African Countries.

Oxfam Liaison Office to the African Union has just set a program in Addis Ababa to support the effort of the AU Commission in the promotion of the AMV.

Extreme Inequality can be overcome… if we make Government to truly work for citizens.

  • Tax system: is one of the most important tools governments have to address inequality.
  • Clinics, classrooms and other public services free of charge can help to close the gap in life chances.

We must also close the international tax loopholes and fill the gap in tax governance.  – – – –

I thank you.

PSC Even it up dec 14

My address to the PSC on Ebola : 28 Nov 2014

Meeting of the Peace and Security Council: Open Session on Ebola outbreak in West Africa and AU Support Mission to Ebola outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA)

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of Oxfam, I would like to thank the PSC for inviting us to this important debate.

With the current Ebola outbreak, Health services have collapsed and other diseases are going untreated.  Household income is going down, poverty level is increasing, schools are closed and, If not contained, the likelihood of the spread of this virus to a larger area in our continent is high!

Ebola crisis has wiped away, years of development gains, and, is now threatening to increase the fragility of the affected countries and the stability of the region.

 Ebola crisis requires a multi-sectorial response to reduce infection rates. My organization, is now responding to the crisis with a planned budget of 43 Million USD. Our focus now is mostly to prevent further spread of the disease.

This is being achieved through supporting improving capacity of inpatient care with a WASH programme as well as material support to medical facilities together with more effective community level prevention and control mechanisms.

We are now operating mainly in Sierra Leone and Liberia with the aims to reach at least 3.2 Million people at risk.

In additions to recommendations already proposed, I will mention 3 more from our end:

  • Prioritize Prevention of further infections – In addition to the mobilisation of funding for treatment and medical personnel, response, should also focus on a systematic education of communities, equipping them with means to protect themselves, in order to prevent further spread of the virus. Community mobilisation and engagement is the only way to ensure that treatment facilities work to their full potential – by ensuring that people know how and when to access treatment –  by removing the blocks to behavioural change)…. Treatment and Prevention must go hand in hand.


  1. We should not forget preparedness for “countries at risk”.  At least 15 countries have been identified as “countries of concern”. My previous point on prevention goes for them as well.
  • Revive the AU Abuja Declaration on health: 


One of the lessons we learn today is that, affected countries were not equipped to detect and contain the epidemic on time… Universal access to quality and free healthcare should be at the heart of making poverty history in our continent.

In April 2001, AU member states pledged in Abuja to increase government funding for health to at least 15% of their national budget. 13 years after, most of the countries in the region allocated less the 7% to health. In Guinea for example, reports show that only 3% of the national budget goes to health. This is a wakeup call to us!!!    We call upon the PSC today to remind to member states, their Abuja commitments and urge them to implement it.

I thank you.


African Union Summit: What to expect in January 2015?

By Desire Assogbavi

The year 2015 has been declared by the Assembly of the African Union as the “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. Both bi-annual Summits of the AU will then be organized around this theme. In the practice, the theme will be symbolically launched during the January Summit but a number of related activities will be organized throughout the year 2015. However, some other burning issues will dominated the various policy discussions during the Summit.

The Summit will be as usual organized in 3 steps:

– The Permanent Representatives Committee (Ambassadors): 23 – 24 January

– The Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 26 – 27 January

– The Assemble of the AU (Heads of State and Government) 30 – 31 January

A number of other parallel/side meetings will also normally be held by states and non-state actors.

What is likely to dominate the Summit?

Beside the official launch of the theme of the Summit “Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, no major decision is expected to be taken on this issue. The Assembly usually organizes a public debate and adopts a declaration/commitment on the main theme but this normally happens during the July Summit. The following issues are expected to dominate the Summit:

Ebola Crisis: Ebola has already claimed close to 7, 500 lives in Africa. Response to Ebola is on the right path. The recent move of AUC Chairperson Mrs. D-Zuma  raising fund from the private sector within the continent is excellent, but there is a long way to go with the number of cases still increasing exponentially. Beyond transmission rates, there is already a crisis in non-Ebola health, and major concerns around food security, livelihoods, vulnerability and long term economic impact. There is a need to prioritize prevention of further infections and the AU member States must revive the AU Abuja Declaration by which they have committed to allocate 15% of their national budget on health. AU policy organs will consider a report of the AU Commission on the crisis and take a decision on it. Read my address to the PSC on Ebola

African Union Agenda 2063: The drafted 50-year plan of the continental body is expected to be adopted during the January Summit. A previous decision taken in Malabo this year by the Executive Council strongly recommended to member states to organize systematic national consultations on the Agenda but this had not happened in many countries. The AU Commission however conducted some targeted stakeholder consultations over the year. Priority programmes and projects of the Agenda 2063 include: An Integrated High Speed Train Network, the Continental Free Trade Area, the African Passport and Free Movement of people, Unification of African Air Space, the Grand Inga Dam Project etc… The AU Commission has been asked to propose concrete steps towards the implementation of these priorities. See the June 2014 version of the Agenda 2063:

Alternative Sources of Financing the African Union: There is still no consensus among AU Members on how to stop or at least to reduce the current financial dependency of the African Union from external donors. Currently, external donors pay more than 70% of all AU expenses (including peace and security budget). Proposals made by President Obasanjo, if implemented will generate over USD 750 Million annually to the AU (more than the current budget which is 522 Million USD excluding Peace and Security). Discussions will continue on this but I suspect member states are far from reaching a full consensus on this.

Presidency of the African Union for 2015: Will the AU elect Robert Mugabe as its Chairperson for 2015? The Chairmanship of the AU shall normally go to Southern Africa for 2015 and the established tradition is that the region presents a candidate. Speculations indicate that Robert Mugabe is likely to be the candidate of Southern Africa… I wish he is not! – Read my blog on this next week on:

Observers (including CSOs)’s participation in the AU Summits: Observers are now receiving invitation for the January Summit. – Great news!!!

In July this year, the African Union did not invite African non-state actors to the Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. There is an unfinished discussion on whether observers should be invited to both the January and the July Summit of the Union. There is a growing number of member states that stand for observers to be invited  only to the January Summit in order to reserve the July Summit for closed and quiet discussions within member States only. Of course CSOs and donors/partners are not in favour of any restriction of access to the Summit. I suspect this is becoming the practice.

Peace and Security: The Summit will review the state of peace and security in the continent and will adopt decisions on each situation. Hot spots include South Sudan, Sudan, DRC, Somalia, CAR and Mali. It is also expected that terrorisms including the situations in Nigeria and Kenya will come up. The Situation in the DRC will be particularly discussed in a special meeting around the DRC Framework Agreement at Heads of State level.

Illicit Financial Flow and unfair exploitation of mineral resources of Africa: Illicit outflows from Africa are estimated for about $ 50-60 billion per year. This represents 1 billion per week, leaving the continent through extractive industries, tax evasion and trade mispricing. President Tabo M’beki, Chair of the AU High-level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa is now confirmed  to present a report on the issue. This issue should be definitely linked to the financing for the development of the continent which will bring solution to numerous other problems. See my blog on this:


There will be elections for the following organs of the African Union

  • 11 Members of the Advisory Board of Corruption
  • 7 Members of the African Union Commission on International Law
  • President and Vice president on the Pan Africa University
  • Selection of the Host Country of the Pan African University

AU Summit: An influencing and Networking Opportunity

The upcoming Summit presents an important advocacy opportunity on some of the issues I have mentioned above. These include Ebola response and priority actions, Financing for Africa Development and Illicit Financial Flow, Africa Agenda 2063, Peace and Security, CSOs space etc. Even though the AU summit is not the best moment to influence actual policies, it creates a unique opportunity for various actors to raise some priority issues trough media work, direct lobby and advocacy. The Summit is also a unique networking moment for future collaboration between actors from various backgrounds.