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Jesuits in Africa Advocate for “renaissance” to Encourage Investments within the Continent

Animation image showing the Pandora Papers Expose. Credit: International Consortium if Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

Officials of the Jesuit Conference for Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) are calling for an “African renaissance” that would see appropriate financial regulations reinforced and policies put in place to foster investments within the African continent.

The suggestion by JCAM follows the Pandora Papers exposé by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) implicating Africa-based politicians, public officials, celebrities and service providers who reportedly use offshore accounts to conceal the value of their wealth. 

In a Wednesday, November 24 report, officials of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network-Africa (JENA) department of JCAM who express their intention not to accuse those mentioned in the Pandora papers for wrongdoing note that the offshore accounts, valued in billions of dollars, have some negative impacts on African economies, including evading taxes and holding cash that could be used to improve people's lives. 

“The Pandora Papers document and others before it call for action from all well-meaning individuals and groups for an African Renaissance, intended to: close loopholes for resource leakage, enforce the appropriate regulations, recover resources and assets lost and ensure that the right atmosphere is established through institution and policy building to promote investments within,” say the officials of JENA.

They explain that African nations need to deliberate on strategies toward improving human and technical capabilities that would see national institutions such as customs services, financial intelligence units and anti-corruption agencies function effectively.

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With such effective functioning, JENA officials say, fraud, embezzlement of public resources and other financial crimes would be detected and action undertaken to utilize resources appropriately.

Officials of the JCAM entity add that there is need for macroeconomic policies in Africa aimed at reducing interest rates to stem the capital flight (the outflow of capital from a country).

“Africa needs strong rules and institutions that keep private and public sector corruption in check. At the national level, African governments must also establish strong legal frameworks on transparent and accountable management of natural resources aiding the extractive industries, tax payments by corporations, as well as open legal proceedings of prosecutions of economic crimes,” they say.

JENA officials add that the policies against capital flight should be supported at national and global levels. 

They cite the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2020 Africa report, which highlighted an annual capital flight from Africa of $88.6 billion, equivalent to 3.7 % of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that exceeds Official Development Assistance (ODA) inflows amounting to $48 billion or Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), equivalent of $54 billion. 

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The Jesuit officials also underscore the need for citizens of African nations to know about the revenue generated from the use of public resources in their respective countries.

Knowing how revenue from public resources are used will “empower the people to hold their governments accountable,” Pascal Andebo and Judith Nguli, the Tax Justice Advocacy Officer and Research and Policy Analyst respectively say in the report. 

Released in October, the Pandora Papers implicate 18 African leaders including Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, and Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo. 

In the November 24 report, JCAM officials say it is necessary for the people of God in the world’s second largest continent to “deliberately sanitize the process of selecting leaders to ensure that those elected must fully comprehend their responsibilities, duties and obligation because the long-term salvation of developing countries depends on the quality of its future leaders who must have empathy for the people”

Apart from sanitizing the leaders, Africans ought to influence the emergence of a new generation of leaders who are committed to the different causes in their countries, they say.

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