Given the high levels of illicit financial flows from African countries and recognising the potential of tax transparency and exchange of information to raise resources for development, African members of the Global Forum attending its plenary meeting in October 2014 in Berlin decided to create an African-focused programme: the Africa Initiative. The objective was to unlock the potential of tax transparency and exchange of information for Africa by ensuring that African countries are equipped to exploit the improvements in global transparency to better tackle tax evasion.
The regional focus enables the identification of specific approaches and the provision of tailored support to address the needs and priorities of African countries to grow their capacity in exchange of information. The Initiative's work fits into broader agendas, as tax transparency is an opportunity to stem illicit financial flows and increase domestic resource mobilisation, which are central to the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
» Read the latest Africa Initiative progress report
The Africa Initiative was launched as a partnership between the Global Forum, its African members and a number of regional and international organisations and development partners. Initially set up for a period of three years (2015-2017), it was renewed for a second phase (2018-2020) in November 2017 at the Global Forum plenary meeting held in Yaoundé, Cameroon. A new three-year mandate and a new governance were agreed during the Initiative's 8th meeting in October 2020, for the period 2021-2023. With encouraging first results, additional development partners joined the Initiative.
The Africa Initiative has benefitted from significant engagement at ministerial level to ensure political buy-in and sustained momentum. This is reflected in the Yaoundé Declaration, which provides support to the fight against illicit financial flows from Africa.
The Africa Initiative is currently co-chaired by Mr Edward Kieswetter, Commissioner, South African Revenue Service (SARS) and Mr Philippe Kokou B. Tchodie, Commissioner General, Togolese Revenue Office (OTR). It is open to all African countries and currently counts 37 member jurisdictions. Seventeen donors and partners support the Initiative. Its members meet every year to take stock of the progress made and reflect on the remaining challenges. An ambitious work programme was agreed to develop and consolidate a culture of transparency and exchange of information on request in African countries, and to progress towards the implementation of automatic exchange of information.
The collection of tax claims is a challenge for many tax administrations, including those in Africa. Following calls from African countries and other developing countries to strengthen the international tax co-operation framework by ensuring effective cross-border assistance in recovery of tax debts, members of the Africa Initiative identified assistance in cross-border recovery of tax claims as one of the priority areas for the renewed mandate which covers the period 2021-2023.
A dedicated working group established within the framework of the Africa Initiative conducted a fact-finding exercise to understand the current position of African countries on cross-border assistance in recovery of tax claims and ascertain the conditions necessary for an effective use of this from of international tax co-operation by African countries. The results are summarised in a note, which highlights the need for building capacities on cross-border assistance in tax recovery in Africa in order to unlock its potential in domestic resource mobilisation.
» Statement of outcomes of the 12th meeting of the Africa Initiative (November2022)
» Statement of outcomes of the 10th meeting of the Africa Initiative (November 2021)
» Statement of outcomes of the 8th meeting of the Africa Initiative (October 2020)
» Statement of outcomes of the 2014 Global Forum plenary meeting (October 2014)