Apr 19 2011

Africa’s odious debts: forthcoming book

Posted by: Nicholas Shaxson in: Thoughts

I love this quote in an article by Professor James K. Boyce, about tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions:

They provide refuge not from oppression but from responsibility

That summarises two very different world views, in a neat sentence. One for the Tax Justice Network’s quotations page.

But there’s something else, more news-worthy in this story, apart from its kind words about Treasure Islands. Namely:

In our forthcoming book, Africa’s Odious Debts, my colleague Léonce Ndikumana and I document the flight of $735 billion (in constant 2008 dollars) from sub-Saharan Africa from 1970 to 2008. Most of this disappeared into financial sinkholes; recorded African deposits in Western banks amounted to less than 6% of this amount.

To put Africa’s capital hemorrhage into perspective, the total foreign debt of the same countries stood at $177 billion at the end of 2008. In this sense Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world: its external assets far exceed its external liabilities. A crucial difference, however, is that the assets are private and hidden, whereas the liabilities are public, owed by the people of Africa through their governments.

A shocker. I can’t wait to read it.

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