A new report by the UN agency for trade and development (UNCTAD) estimates that Africa lost $836bn (£650bn) in illegal movement of money out of the continent in the 15 years to 2015.
The report noted that compared with Africa’s total external debt of $770bn in 2018, this makes Africa a “net creditor to the world”.
The illegal outflow of money is mainly related to the export of high-value goods such as gold, diamonds, and platinum. Revenues are lost through corruption, theft and tax evasion.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said Illicit financial flows rob Africa and its people of their prospects, undermining transparency and accountability and eroding trust in African institutions.
The report cautions that although the amounts of the illegal flows are large, the figures could underestimate the problem and its impact.
The report notes that the loss undermines African governments’ ability to provide services like healthcare, education, and infrastructure.