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 on 28 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.
Focusing on Africa enables the identification of specific approaches and the provision of tailored support to address the specific needs and priorities of African countries to grow their capacity in exchange of information. The Africa Initiative 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 Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
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: African Tax Administration Forum, Cercle de Réflexion et d’Echange des Dirigeants des Administrations Fiscales, World Bank Group, France (Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs) and the United Kingdom (Department for International Development).
Initially set up for a period of three years (2015-2017), the Africa Initiative was renewed for a second phase (2018-2020) in November 2017 at the Global Forum plenary meeting held in Yaoundé, Cameroon. With encouraging first results, additional development partners joined the Africa Initiative: the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank Group, the European Union, Norway (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation), Switzerland (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) and the West African Tax Administration Forum.
The Africa Initiative is open to all African countries and currently has 32 African member jurisdictions. It is supported by 11 partners and donors. 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.