Africa is losing six-and-a-half-times the amount it receives in aid

Wealthy governments, including the UK, bear responsibility for much of Africa’s loss of resources.

Whilst we often hear tales of Britain’s benevolence when it comes to aiding Africa, these tales are not always correct. In reality, Africa is losing $192 billion each year to the rest of the world – nearly six and a half times the amount it receives in aid each year.

Researched published this week by 13 African and UK NGOs shows that when compared to all other inflows to Africa – such as loans, foreign investment and remittances – Africa suffers a net loss of $58 billion a year.

Africa’s losses include: $46.3 billion in profits made by multinational companies; $21 billion in debt payments, often following irresponsible loans; $35.3 billion in illicit financial flows facilitated by the global network of tax havens; $23.4 billion in foreign currency reserves given as loans to other governments; $17 billion in illegal logging; $1.3 billion in illegal fishing and $6 billion as a result of the migration of skilled workers from Africa.

In addition to these resource flows out of the continent, Africa is forced to pay a further $10.6 billion to adapt to the effects of climate change that it did not cause, and $26 billion to pursue low carbon economic growth.

Wealthy governments, including the UK, bear responsibility for much of Africa’s loss of resources. The UK, which has historically been a key destination country for migrant health workers, bears a hefty share of the responsibility for climate change; and with its network of ten tax havens presides over a global system that facilitates the loss of billions in illicit financial flows from Africa each year.

Yet these facts are being lost amongst aid propaganda. The idea of the UK as the ‘generous benefactor’ is a narrative that has been bought into and passed on from politicians, the media, the public and NGOs ourselves.

These myths have led to hugely distorted public perceptions with 26 per cent of the UK public believing the government spends more on aid than education, schools or pensions. These myths can also do nothing but long-term damage to international solidarity and global development.

The primary measure by which we assess the UK’s support for Africa’s development must be its action, not its aid. These actions must include urgent measures to close down the UK’s network of tax havens, curb the plundering of African resources by multinational companies and enact ambitious and far-reaching climate change targets.

Real progress towards ending global poverty requires the government, media and NGOs alike to end the misrepresentations of our financial relationship with Africa and tackle the failures of the current financial system and the systemic inequalities that underpin it.

For more information on the ‘Honest Accounts?’ report, visit the Health Poverty Action website.

Natalie Sharples is senior policy advisor at Health Poverty Action

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9 Responses to “Africa is losing six-and-a-half-times the amount it receives in aid”

  1. Dave Roberts

    In 2005 every single penny of British aid to Nigeria was stolen. Not some, every.

  2. rat man

    Africas problems are Africas problems.

    I don’t care about them, or think we should in do anything about them, anymore than we should meddle with France or Australia.

    Being a poor country doesnt mean they should be treated like stupid children unable to govern themselves, and if they can’t, then its no more our business than our governments mess is of of theirs.

  3. Guest

    Great, then you can stop buying anything made with African resources or labour.

    And yes, stop treating the UK like that.

  4. Guest

    “Tax is theft”. Yea, it’s you.

  5. swatnan

    Its an absolute disgrace. Money for Aid being siphonered off by greedy corrupt African Leaders.The Swiss and London Banks need to be forced to open up their Bank Accounts and reveal these awful people.

  6. vector56

    Most countries in Africa like Mexico and many South and Central American countries are “not” poor; they are victims of the new face of Colonialism (NAFTA, GAFTA, TPP…). Trillions of dollars of Natural Resources are being stolen by Multinational Corporates backed by Western Military might.

  7. vector56

    Mexico among other things is an “Oil” rich country; yet all that vast wealth is locked up in the hands of a few families. Most of the oil used here in the US comes from Mexico and Canada: yet the poor and desperate flood across our southern border fleeing the oil-rich country that is their home? Africa (the continent) is an older victim of colonialism; she has been “Gang-Raped” by those “good-old-boys” from Europe for centuries. WWI was basically “the boys” fighting over who gets to “have their way with her”; Germany was asked to wait outside while France and England had some fun. This directly brought on WWII and the rise of the NAZIS. Odds are leaving Africa (and Mexico) alone and allowing her to recover from “civilization” might be the humane thing to do.

  8. Robert

    Your history is miles off here, Firstly although there was fighting in Africa in WW1 but the scramble for Africa was over by this point in 1885. ( Most of Africa was colonized by this point (except Abyssinia) ,here is a map of Africa circa 1914( Also to suggest that African conflict brought about WW2 and the Nazis is a bit for the mark also you are ignoring the Treaty of Versailles, Great Depression, appeasement, Hitler? ect. I don’t know whose been teaching you History but you’ve been taught the wrong thing. And also there is a case for Europe and America under developing Europe and South America ( // . Foreign aid can have many positive effects, here are cases of it working well, also there are fantastic initiatives such as micro-loans, the Grarmeen bank.,,

  9. vector56


    you are right in that “my history” does not dovetail the propaganda that is spoon-fed to every school child behind the “velvet curtain” in the West. I assumed The Treaty of Versailles was a given, as far as being the “trigger” (not the cause) that spark round two of the Global Killing Orgy (WWII). The first World War was not caused by by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife; the trigger maybe, but not the cause. Global Wars killing millions of people are fought of money, wealth and power. The vast Natural Resources of Africa India and China where being looted by the major European Colonial powers. Germany was cut-out of the global “drive-by” , bringing on WWl. After the other two ‘Thugs” with the help of the USA beat down the lesser “thug” (Germany) they forced them to pay for the first blood-bath that killed 55 million people (Treaty of Versailles). I did not over look this treaty that punished the Germans for defeat. There seems to have been an effort of “whitewash” the global Bloodbath that was Colonialism? 150 million people were snuffed out in WWl and WWll. Simply put, both wars were fought by the Global Colonial powers to control the Natural Resources of Africa, India, China Asia and the Middle East. Trillions of dollars of “raw” wealth cost millions of lives! To swallow the propaganda of the status quo almost guarantees a WWlll.

    In the end the idea of “charity” to many of these Countries/Contents the Global Looters have raided is laughable! How about giving them back their “stuff”?

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