Illicit Financial Flows and the Problem of Net Resource Transfers from Africa: 1980-2009

A May 2013 Joint Report from Global Financial Integrity and the African Development Bank



Illicit Financial Flows and the Problem of Net Resource Transfers from Africa: 1980-2009


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PDF Download Executive Summary (65 KB)

PDF Download Foreword (226 KB)


Profile: Africa - This report analyzes net resource transfers from Africa, which includes both licit and illicit flows, from the period 1980 to 2009.


Media Resources

Press Release: New AfDB-GFI Joint Report: Africa a Net Creditor to the Rest of the World - May 29, 2013




Clark Gascoigne

+1 202-293-0740 ext 222


E.J. Fagan

+1 202-293-0740 ext 227


Olivia Ndong Obiang

African Development Bank

+216 9599 9770


The findings of the report will be presented at the AfDB Annual Meetings on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 in the Palais des Congrès, Palmeraie Golf Palace, Rosarie Room, in Marrakech, Morocco.


Read the blog post by Professor Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist at the African Development Bank, here.


About the Authors

AfDB and GFI Joint Report


This report was prepared by a joint team comprised of Dev Kar, Chief Economist, and Sarah Frietas, Economist, at Global Financial Integrity and Jennifer Mbabszi Moyo, Senior Economist and Guirane Samba Ndiaye, Economist from the African Development Bank.


The work was carried out under the general direction of Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice President, Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, Director, Development Research Department, and Issa Faye, Manager, Development Research Department, (EDRE1), African Developmen Bank and Tom Cardamone, Managing Director, and Raymond Baker, Director, Global Financial Integrity.


The authors would like to thank all staff from our institutions who have worked so hard to make this joint report possible. In particular, they thank Barbara Barungi, Ralf Kruger, Peter Sturmheit, Walter Odero, Charles Toto Same, Ousmane Dore and Joel Muzima from the African Development Bank and Crystal Nwaroh and Julianna Flanagan, interns from Global Financial Integrity.

Primary Findings

Between 1980 and 2009, the economies of Africa lost between US$597 billion and US$1.4 trillion in net resource transfers away from the continent.


These transfers include both licit flows, such as investment, foreign aid, debt relief, and remittances moving into and out of the country, and illicit flows, such as the proceeds of crime, corruption, and tax evasion moving out of the continent.



The resource drain on Africa over the past thirty years is almost equivalent to Africa's current GDP. This represents a major drag on African development, and dwarfs much of the effort that donor countries undertake to boost the continent's struggling economies.



Which countries lost the most net resources? Mouse-over the thumbnail below to see the heat map:




PDF Download Country Distribution Graph (175 KB)


Policy Recommendations

The report recommends several policies, including:


  • Require banks and tax havens to regularly report to the Bank of the International Settlements (BIS) detailed deposits by sector, maturity, and country of residence of deposit holders.
  • Address the problem of shell companies by requiring that all corporations, foundations, and trusts confirm beneficial ownership information in all banking and securities accounts.
  • Address capacity issues and corruption domestically within African tax authorities.
  • Persue automatic cross-border exchange of tax information on personal and business accounts, ideally on a multilateral basis.


Download all tables, charts, and data from the report (.ZIP)





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