Under the "smokescreen" of giving aid or charity, western governments and multinational corporations are pillaging states in sub-Sahara Africa with losses nearing $60 billion each year, according to research published on Tuesday by a coalition of 10 Africa and UK-based NGOs.
The report, Honest accounts? The true story of Africa's billion dollar losses (pdf), finds that while an estimated $134 billion flows into the continent annually through a combination of loans, foreign investment and aid, African nations lose approximately $192 billion in profits made by foreign multinational companies, as well as through tax evasion and the costs of adapting to climate change.
"Notions of aid and charity are in reality aiding politicians and multinational corporations to continue plundering Africa behind a shroud of ‘generosity’," the report's authors write. "It is preventing governments from being held accountable for policies that have a far greater impact on Africa and diverting attention from the structural changes needed to eliminate poverty and gross inequality."
The losses stem from abuses across a wide range of areas including: "illicit financial flows; profits taken out of the continent by multinational companies; debt payments; brain drain of skilled workers; illegal logging and fishing and the costs incurred as a result of climate change."
According to the report, if other countries keep looting Africa at the same rate, over the next 10 years the African people will lose $580 billion.
"Common understanding is the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out," said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action. "It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving – and we should recognize that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this.”
"The amount of resources flowing out of Africa demands we rethink the idea that Africa is impoverished," the report continues. "Millions of ordinary Africans are certainly poor, but they are being kept so by a combination of bad policies and immoral or criminal activities perpetrated by elites both inside and outside the continent.