Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General.
Plunder Depriving Africans Of Resource Benefits -- Annan
MONROVIA, May 8 (LINA) - Africa’s rich natural resources offer a unique opportunity for a breakthrough in improving the lives of Africans, says a major new report launched Thursday by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General.
But, the report said, too often these resources are plundered by corrupt officials and foreign investors.
Rising inequality is also blocking Africa from seizing that opportunity, the report shows, according to the Liberia News Agency quoting the Africa Progress Panel.
The 2014 Africa Progress Panel report, “Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa’s green and blue revolutions,” calls on Africa’s political leaders to take concrete measures now to reduce inequality by investing in agriculture.
It also demands international action to end what it describes as the plunder of Africa’s timber and fisheries.
“After more than a decade of growth, there is plenty to celebrate,” Mr. Annan will say when he releases the report.
“But it is time to ask why so much growth has done so little to lift people out of poverty – and why so much of Africa’s resource wealth is squandered through corrupt practices and unscrupulous investment activities.”
“Africa is a continent of great wealth so why is Africa’s share of global malnutrition and child deaths rising so fast? The answer is that inequality is weakening the link between economic growth and improvements in wellbeing,” he said.
Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing has reached epidemic proportions in Africa’s coastal waters. West Africa is conservatively estimated to lose US$1.3 billion annually.
Beyond the financial cost this plunder destroys fishing communities who lose critical opportunities to fish, process and trade. Another US$17 billion is lost through illicit logging activities.
“Natural resource plunder is organized theft disguised as commerce. Commercial trawlers that operate under flags of convenience, and unload in ports that do not record their catch, are unethical,” Mr. Annan said.
He added: “These criminal activities compound the problem of tax evasion and shell companies. The Africa Progress Report 2014 calls for a multilateral fisheries regime that applies sanctions to fishing vessels that do not register and report their catches.”
The report also calls on governments around to world to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement, a treaty that seeks to thwart the poachers in port from unloading their ill-gotten gains.
African political leaders have failed to manage natural resources in the interests of the true owners of those resources – the African people, the report notes..
It is estimated that that the continent is losing US$1.85 billion a year because money transfer operators are imposing excessive charges on remittances.
“Africa’s resilience and creativity are enormous,” Mr Annan says. “We have a rising and energetic youth population. Our dynamic entrepreneurs are using technology to transform people’s lives. We have enough resources to feed not just ourselves but other regions, too. It is time for Africa’s leaders – and responsible investment partners – to unlock this huge potential.”