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Should African leaders pay taxes?

By Donasius Pathera - posted Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Africa is now facing the reality of financial independence right in the eye. Whether one is in denial or not the truth is that Africa should fend for herself and it does have resources to sustain it. This is backed by many reports that point out Africa's many resources, more than enough to make her financially independent of donors.

Caroline Kende Robb writing for Think Africa claims that Africa has incredible resource wealth, but if it is to reap the benefits, there must be a change of attitude amongst governments, corporations and the international community.

Now is a good time to be optimistic about Africa. The continent's global influence is growing after a decade of strong growth; the roots of macro-economic stability and democracy are sinking deeper across the continent. Dynamic civil societies are keeping governments on their toes, and government policy is improving. Africa is increasingly being recognised today for its dynamism and creativity.


However, Africa still faces major challenges too. A decade of highly impressive growth has not brought comparable improvements in health, education and nutrition; in many countries, the gap between rich and poor has only widened; and Africa must create jobs fast enough to keep pace with the growth of its young and growing workforce.

We have seen elsewhere how frustration and anger over corruption and unresponsive governments can create dangerous social and political environments.

To head off these pressures, the Africa Progress Panel believes that African governments must strengthen health and education systems through more efficient and equitable public spending, with a greater focus on gender disparities. African governments must also remove two major obstacles to development – the lack of infrastructure and energy.

To this end, the wise management of Africa's incredible natural wealth is a high priority.

By some estimates, the continent holds as much as 30% of global mineral reserves, and even higher proportions of the world's gold, platinum, diamonds and manganese.

Meanwhile, new exploration continues to reveal much larger reserves than previously known. Africa's natural resource windfall could change the face of the continent. In Liberia alone, iron ore and petroleum could generate an extra US$1.7 billion per year, equal to 148% of the country's 2011 GDP.


However, Africa and its partners will miss this opportunity to transform the lives of future as well as present generations if they carry on with business as usual. This danger was revealed in stark detail by the Equity in Extractives report released earlier this year by the Africa Progress Panel.

Africa's natural resource wealth rightly belongs to the continent's citizens, but these citizens are being robbed of its benefits by revenue diversion, corruption, jobless growth, and rising inequality.

In oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, for example, the economy has grown by an average of 17% a year over the last decade, meaning its GDP per capita is now higher than Poland's. Yet three-quarters of the population still live in poverty, and child death rates are among the highest in the world.

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About the Author

Donasius Pathera is a Malawian young writer and he contributes to Malawi’s premier newspaper, The Daily Times. He works for the Malawi Revenue Authority in the Corporate Affairs Division.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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