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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

European Commission President

The EU Alliance with Africa: Is It Old Wine in New Bottles?

The Alliance aims to deepen economic relations between the two continents by boosting private investment and trade. The Commission is billing the proposals as a “radical shift” in the EU’s approach to development cooperation in Africa that will take the relationship “to the next level.” Implicit in the sound bites is the EU’s ambition to rival the growing influence of China, whose vast programme of investment on the continent has left other donors scrambling to catch up. But is the Alliance actually anything new? And does it have the potential to reposition the EU as Africa’s leading development partner?

Stop Spreading the Myth: Zambia Is Not Losing $3 Billion to Tax Avoidance

If transparency in debates around matters of natural resource wealth, then so too does the way that figures get translated into public debates.  Earlier this month the Lusaka Times published a claim that multinational mining companies were “robbing Zambia of an estimated $3billion annually through tax evasion and illicit financial flows.” I have written about the Zambia Copper Billions before. I don’t think the figure is at all credible, and I am not the only one. Organisations that have allowed this myth to spread have not done any favours to the people of Zambia, and they have a responsibility to put it right. 

"The Worst Aid Project in the World:" EU Support for Detention Camps in Sudan

More than a million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, with thousands dying in the attempt to cross by sea. EU development policy has swung into action, in an attempt to address the “root causes” of the movement of people. But this rapid reaction has led to some poor decisions, with the potential to waste a lot of money, and potentially cause serious harm.

Talking about Tax Is Taxing: Pretending It Is Simple Will Hurt the Poor

Here’s an obvious truth: tax lost to trade misinvoicing in Africa does not equal tax lost to transfer mispricing by multinational corporations in Sierra Leone, which does not equal lost health-care spending. Unfortunately, a policy paper released on Tuesday by Oxfam makes exactly these equivalences. This sort of imprecision is widespread, and it’s not going to help the poor.

Nigeria’s Upward Revision of GDP Should Sound Alarm on Tax-to-GDP Ratio

The long-anticipated rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP series was finally made public on Sunday April 6, and the general media reaction has been cautiously celebratory. But the reaction has largely missed one big point: the rebasing establishes that the biggest economy in Africa has the lowest tax revenues of almost any country in the world.

African Regional Integration and the Fight Against Illicit Financial Flows

The African Development Bank estimates that illicit financial flows have drained in excess of a trillion dollars from Africa since 1980. These flows undermine the tax base, damage political institutions and exacerbate inequality. With major momentum behind global counter-measures, there are clear opportunities for progress at the regional level – including through stronger information exchange and cooperation, tax base harmonization and innovative uses of trade data.