Africa loses an estimated $60 billion every year through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). Defined by the Global Financial Integrity as “money that is illegally earned or transferred”, this enormous hemorrhage of financial resources from the continent severely undermines Africa’s capacity for domestic resource mobilization (DRM) leaving African countries with no resources to finance development. The majority of these IFFs originate from tax evasion and tax avoidance practices perpetrated by multi-national corporations (MNCs), particularly those involved in the extractive sector. In the last 3 decades cumulative losses from the continent amount to over $1 trillion. Thus, effectively IFFs deprive countries of public revenues that could be used to address poverty and inequality.
TrustAfrica, in partnership with Thompson Reuters Foundation, organized two workshops for African Journalists to report and investigate illicit financial flows in their countries through Wealth of Nations. Wealth of Nations is an award-winning programme run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in collaboration with some of Africa’s leading organisations promoting excellence in journalism. The programme is supported by a grant from Norway’s development agency, Norad. Wealth of Nations aims to boost the quality and quantity of African media coverage of illicit financial flows, in order to raise awareness of this issue at all levels of society, increase pressure on policy makers to address this issue, and ultimately to contribute to a reduction of IFFs from Africa. It features a combination of tailored activities including training, mentoring, story grants, and in-house newsroom consultancy.
At a regional level, illicit finance reporting scheme incorporates many lessons learned from previous investigations. Each scheme of the programme engages ten journalists from different African countries and offer them a package of support to help them produce investigations that they could not otherwise have done. There is a first five-day workshop covering IFFs knowledge, investigative techniques, story development, and ethical and safety issues. The curriculum draws heavily on the expertise within Reuters news on investigating corporate tax avoidance.
After the first scheme, participants can apply for modest story grants. Six to eight participants can receive these grants, and get remote mentoring support from expert journalists. Then, around three months later, a second three-day workshop is organized for journalists who received the grants to intensively progress their stories and deepened their existing knowledge.
Both workshops took place at TrustAfrica’s Head Office, in Dakar, Senegal. During the second workshop, TrustAfrica’s Executive Director, Dr. Ebrima Sall, welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of their work in the field of investigating and reporting illicit financial flows on our continent in order to contribute to the fight of combatting these practices which deprives Africa from its own wealth.
Find more information about the programme here: http://www.wealth-of-nations.org/