Africa-UK trade & investment agreements after Brexit

Wednesday, 20 July 2016 - 4:45pm to 6:00pm


The Africa All Party Parliamentary Group & Royal African Society parliamentary panel meeting to discuss-

Africa-UK trade & investment agreements after Brexit


Chair: Chi Onwurah MP




Edwin Laurent- Director of the Ramphal Institute


Liz May- Head of Policy at Traidcraft


Dr. Eka Ikpe- African Leadership Centre, Kings College London


Following the Brexit vote on the 23rd June, the Africa APPG is carrying out an inquiry into the future of trade & investment agreements between the UK and African states.
This is an initial exploratory meeting to begin reflecting on the EU Economic Partnership Agreements with African Regional Economic Areas and the UK's Bilateral Investment Treaties with African countries. What lessons can be learnt from their negotiation and implementation to date? Does Brexit provide an opportunity for bettering our trade and investment relationships with African countries?

Submitting questions for Q&A
Due to limited time and to ensure informative discussion, where possible, could interested parliamentary members please submit questions for the panel in advance to and no later than Friday 15th June.
Members of the public are also invited to submit questions, although priority will be given to questions from parliamentarians.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 from 16:45 to 18:00 (BST)
Boothroyd Room - Portcullis House, House of Commons, London, SW1A 2LW
Register via Eventbite here

Mining for Prosperity - Kayode Fayemi at RAS Business Breakfast

Thursday, 30 June 2016
Site Editor

This morning, The Royal African Society hosted His Excellency Kayode Fayemi, Minister for Solid Minerals. He addressed RAS members on 'Mining for Prosperity' and on his ministry's objective of increasing the mining industry’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP. Among the key highlights of his address were: his ministry’s completion of a revalidation process to remove dormant license holders and opening up access to new and eager prospectors; Nigeria’s investment in infrastructure to support the mining value chain – and the ministry’s incentivisation plan for new entrants into the sector. The breakfast was chaired by Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the RAS. 

This event took place as part of the RAS Business Programme for corporate members. To find out more about joining click here

What will Brexit mean for Africa?

Friday, 24 June 2016
Richard Dowden

Sometimes turkeys do vote for Christmas. Just over half British voters have just done so. Brexit is national suicide. The tribes of Britain will now be at war with each other. The Scots will demand another referendum and will vote to leave. Northern Ireland will be vulnerable to civil war again. Are they really going to build a fence along the border? Sinn Fein will go back to war if they do. And the Welsh will not be slow to realise they do not want to be tied to an impoverished England. 

Already the world's capital markets have shown their reaction and the fear that Britain is no longer a global leader in finance and international connections. I wonder if all those building sites in the City will remain building sites while other gleaming towers of steel and glass may soon bear "vacant" signs. 
What does it mean for Africa? All reports I have seen show a strong African belief in Britain staying in the EU. It saw Britain as an important voice for Africa in Brussels and at the UN in New York. Now England and Wales - outside the EU - and led by little Englanders will see British influence in the world diminish further. Could Britain even find itself squeezed off the UN Security Council? You can be sure that aid budget will be slashed. I am not a great fan of aid but I think it did represent Britain's commitment to the poor of the world and especially to struggling African countries. Will David Cameron's brave attempt to raise the issue of global corruption be shelved? Britain's weight in the world will be so diminished that few will take it seriously anyway.  
The exit will feed racism in Britain. There is little doubt that many of the Leave voters, frightened by immigration, want to stop foreigners coming to Britain. Africans - more visible than Europeans - will no doubt be targeted. The new government - presumably led by Boris Johnson - will stop foreigners coming to Britain and be far less willing to accept refugees under the UN Convention. Our universities will suffer as foreign students will find it difficult to get visas and many will turn to America or European alternatives. I also predict there will be a rise in racist attacks on Africans and other "aliens". 
For centuries, for good and ill, Britain has played a major role in world affairs and particularly in Africa. It is the most international country in the world and for centuries has been open to refugees and migrants generally - not least because they brought expertise, new ideas and ambition which broke through Britain's class barriers. Now it seems doomed to become an impoverished island off Europe. And when the Brexiters - fed false figures and lies by Britain's right wing press - realise they have made a dreadful mistake, it will be too late. 
Richard Dowden is director of RAS.
The Africa All Party Parliamentary Group together with the Royal African Society is holding an event on the 20th July exploring Africa-UK Trade & Investment Agreements after Brexit. For information and to register please see here.

'South Sudan: The Untold Story from Independence to Civil War'

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm



Date & Time: Tuesday 21 June 2016, 17:30-19:30

Venue: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre (BGLT) - SOAS, Russell Square, , London , WC1H 0XG

Speakers: Hilde F. Johnson, Barney Afako, Peter Biar Ajak, Clare Short

Chair: Professor Mats Berdal (King’s College London)

In July 2011, South Sudan was granted independence and became the world’s newest country. Yet just two-and-a-half years after this momentous decision, the country was in the grips of renewed civil war and political strife. Hilde F. Johnson, Special Representative of the Secretary- General and Head of the UN Mission, was witness to the many challenges which the country faced as it struggled to adjust to its new autonomous state. In this book, she provides a unique insider’s account of South Sudan’s descent from the ecstatic celebrations of July 2011 to the outbreak of the disastrous conflict in December 2013 and the early phases of the fighting. Join us for a launch of the book, and a discussion with the author, Clare Short (Former Secretary of State for International Development), Peter Biar Ajak (Country Co-Director for the International Growth Centre in South Sudan) and Barney Afako (lawyer and expert on transitional justice).

Followed by a reception, where copies of the book, published by I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd., will be on sale.

Hilde F. Johnson was the Special Representative of the Secretary- General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (2011-2014). From 2007- 2011 Hilde F. Johnson was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, where she was in charge of the organisation’s humanitarian operations, crisis response and security issues. She was a key player in brokering the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) for Sudan in 2005. She is the author of Waging Peace in Sudan: The Inside Story of the Negotiations That Ended Africa’s Longest Civil War.

Peter Biar Ajak is the Country Co-Director for the International Growth Centre in South Sudan and the CEO of South Sudan Wrestling Entertainment, a nonprofit that uses the cultural sport of wrestling to promote peace among South Sudan’s tribes. He was previously the World Bank In-Country Economist in South Sudan (2009-2011), and also previously, the Coordinator of Policy and Strategy in the Office of the Minister of National Security in the Office of the President (2011-2014). Peter is also a member of the SPLM Economic Taskforce.

Barney Afako is a lawyer, and also sits as a Tribunal Judge in London. He was born in Uganda and has extensive experience of work in Sudan and South Sudan. Since 2009, he has been an adviser to the African Union High Level Panel on Sudan and South Sudan chaired by former South African president, Thabo Mbeki. 

The Rt Hon Clare Short was the UK Secretary of State for International Development (1997-2003). She was Shadow Minister for Women (1993-1995) and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport (1995-1996). She was Opposition spokesperson on Overseas Development (1996-1997).  In 2003, Clare Short resigned from her role as Secretary of State for International Development over the Iraq war.  Clare Short is a member of both the Advocacy Panel of Cities Alliance and the Advisory Committee of International Lawyers for Africa, and a Trustee of Africa Humanitarian Action.

This event is free but registration is required. Please register your place on Eventbrite






Happy Birthday Somaliland

Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Richard Dowden

Twenty five years ago Somaliland declared its independence from the wrecked country called Somalia. The ceremony of raising the flag was held on May 18th in Burao, a small town down on the plain. It still had some buildings standing. The capital Hargeisa had been utterly destroyed.

I arrived with an ITN film crew a day later. After consultation the new government agreed to perform the independence ceremony again for the single TV camera. So any commercial footage you see of Somaliland’s second independence now is the repeat performance. A small band played, the trumpeter sounded as the flag – a tricolour of red, white and green with a black star in the middle – was slowly raised. The crowd cheered and guns – including  anti aircraft guns and howitzers and hundreds of AK 47s were fired. We were made very welcome.

Somalia, once a vital strategic country for Europe, on the Red Sea route to India and the East, had been divided up by the colonial powers. France got the strategic port of Djibouti to counterbalance the British possession of Aden in Yemen. Britain took the southern Red Sea coast of Somalia and Italy was given the Indian Ocean Coast although the British gave the southern third of Somalia to Kenya (Or Keenya as they called it then). The Ogaden, the north western part of Somalia, was given to Ethiopia as a reward for keeping silent about the imperial European take-over of Africa.

Unsurprisingly at independence in 1960 Somalis chose the five pointed blue star as its symbol representing the five colonised parts of Somalia re-united. Somalilanders, so keen to be reunited with the rest of Somalia delayed their independence day so it could be held on the same day as the rest of Somalia. In 1991 it declared its independence from the rest of the country. “No More Mogadishu” was the cry. Since then it has had its own government, a parliament and ministries and, despite tensions between different areas and clans, it has been largely peaceful and law-abiding ever since. Still no other country recognizes it although the rest of the world has to treat it as a legitimate government. But not a single African country would support its recognition and unless the African Union recognizes it, the rest of the world will not.

Until I flew to Hargeisa, I did not fully understand why the Somalilanders were so fierce in their demands for independence even though they had delayed their own independence in 1960. As we circled the small town I looked in vain for a single house with a roof on it. We went round again. There was none. Much of the city was rubble and not a single house had a roof. There had been terrible house to house street fighting and the government forces had two Mig fighter bombers flown by mercenary Rhodesian pilots that took off from the airport barely a mile from the town and systematically bombed the parts of the town held by rebels.

In the end the entire civilian population, realising they were going to die, gathered up their meagre possessions and walked for days to the Ethiopian border. Even then the bombers pursued them and bombed them as they walked. Today one of those Migs is on a plinth in the middle of town where in most places there would be a statue of a great war hero or leader. You have to have Somali sense of humour to get that joke.

The government troops also dug up the floors of houses looking for hidden jewelry or money which they stole. They also mined and booby-trapped the hiding places. Many people were killed when they finally returned.

Somaliland has not been recognized by the United Nations. The African Union – although forced to accept the separation of Ethiopia and Eritrea – has never recognised Somaliland. That lack of international recognition means it cannot borrow money on the international market though it does get aid. But Somalilanders have rebuilt the town and revived the country. It has several universities and a good hospital. The capital Hargeisa is now a thriving peaceful city. It even has a poetry festival every year.  Poets are rock stars in Somalia.

Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society

Cameron’s Corruption Summit – a big step forward

Thursday, 12 May 2016
Richard Dowden
The Corruption Summit just concluded in London seems to have produced a strong and very clear statement on the effect of corruption and taken tough measures to ensure it is curbed. Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a lead in stopping the practices that impoverishes millions and sucks more money out of poor countries than the aid that is sent to help their economies grow. Africa has suffered enormous losses through these corrupt or legal but grossly unfair practices. Jophn Githongo, Kenya's leading anti corruption campaigner who attended the conference, said it was a huge step forward in the fight against corruption. 
The concluding document is remarkable. The commitment says: “We see tackling corruption as a top priority, at home and abroad. We will take action to prevent corruption and to ensure it does not fester in our government institutions, businesses and communities. We will seek to uncover corruption wherever it exists, and to pursue and punish those who perpetrate, facilitate or are complicit in it. We commit to make it easier for people to report suspected acts of corruption." 
The misuse of companies, other legal entities and legal arrangements, including trusts, to hide the proceeds of corruption must end. We will enhance transparency over who ultimately owns and controls them, to expose wrongdoing and to disrupt illicit financial flows. As recent events have shown, we need to take firm collective action on increasing beneficial ownership transparency.”
Britain whose flag flies over many tax havens where billions of corrupt payments have been laundered and fed back into the City of London, has taken the lead in establishing codes of conduct and transparency that go further than many had hoped. 
And transparency is now becoming the norm. Six countries, Britain, Afghanistan, Kenya, France, the Netherlands and Nigeria, have signed up to publish who really owns companies in their territories and six more are committed to it. Eleven more countries will join the group where lists of beneficial owners are drawn up and shared between governments, although not publicly. Those countries include the once notorious tax havens: Cayman Islands, Jersey, Bermuda, the Isle of Man and the United Arab Emirates.
In the past when new governments of poor countries which had suffered under corrupt dictators tried to reclaim the money stolen and hidden in the UK or Switzerland, the courts in London often sucked out up to a third of the loot in legal fees. 
Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society

Corruption inverted

Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Richard Dowden

When Prime Minister David Cameron called a conference on global corruption earlier this year my first reaction was: you must be joking. From Pergau dam in the 1990s where Britain’s development agency built a useless dam in Malaysia as a sweetener for a massive arms deal, to selling Tanzania an unnecessary air-traffic control system in 2010, the UK government has used its weight to secure dodgy deals for British companies. Have these practices come to an end?

Most corruption in the world has fewer zeros attached than arms deals. But for poor people “petty” corruption can rob a day’s earnings. Earlier this year I was at Nairobi airport and my taxi stopped with its front wheels just touching a yellow line. The police immediately demanded money from the driver. Then they saw me – a foreigner - and were too embarrassed to take a bribe in front of a foreigner. So they insisted we went to pay the fine in an office in the main building. But that meant I could miss my plane. I left some money with the driver and left. Once I was out of the way the police accepted the cash. I was complicit in petty corruption.   

In the early 1990s in Kinshasa I was having dinner with the local representative of a very large and – I thought - respectable British global company. He admitted that Zaire – as the Democratic Republic of Congo was called then – was extremely corrupt but that was why President Mobutu needed one good company he could trust to be clean – and that was the one he was proud to represent in Kinshasa.

A few days later I ran into his son who was working for another company and I asked him why he wasn’t working for this father’s company. He was quiet for a moment and then said; “Because I could not stand seeing my father take a briefcase of dollars to President Mobutu every Monday morning”. That was corruption on a grand scale.

As I visited more and more African countries, I heard the same refrain: that is how you do business in Africa. This perception is annually reinforced by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. It is based on a survey of the views of (mainly Western) business people and Western experts. This has framed our view of Africa as the continent of corruption. That is why – some say – Africa is poor.

Estimates vary but many organisations tracking corruption accept a rough global figure of $1 trillion for global corruption. That is more than three times all foreign aid. Of that, perhaps a half occurs in poorer countries with less will or ability to control corruption. I saw the demand side for corruption in Africa as an unfortunate imposition on Western companies by corrupt African leaders.

But looking at the figures suggests that grand corruption is in fact a secondary cause of the impoverishment of Africa. The primary cause is tax avoidance by global companies. Using small states like Panama, Luxembourg and several territories which fly the Union Jack, such as the Bahamas and Cayman Island, companies avoid paying tax.

One technical term for this is transfer pricing. But a more accurate description would be theft. Nicholas Shaxon explained how this works at a RAS meeting last week, giving the example of a fictional corporation that grows bananas in Ecuador. A corporation picks and packs a container-load of bananas in Ecuador, and it costs the company $1,000. It sells them to a French supermarket for $3,000. Which country gets to tax the $2,000 profit – France, Ecuador? The answer is: Where the multinational’s accountants decide.

He explained how the multinational sets up three companies, all of which it owns. Let's call them: EcuadorCo, HavenCo (in a zero-tax haven) and FranceCo. EcuadorCo sells the container to HavenCo for $1,000, and HavenCo sells it on to FranceCo for $3,000. That’s basically it. (The bananas themselves don’t go anywhere near the tax haven: this is all just paper-shuffling in New York or London.)

If you blinked, you may have missed what happened here. It cost EcuadorCo $1,000 to pick and pack the container, and they sold it on for $1,000. So EcuadorCo records zero profits, meaning no taxes. Likewise, FranceCo buys it for $3,000 and sells it to the supermarket for $3,000. Again, no profits, and no taxes. HavenCo is the key to the puzzle. It bought the container for $1,000 and sold it for $3,000 – a $2,000 profit. But it is based in a haven, so it pays no tax. In short, all the profits have been stripped out of France and Ecuador, and shoveled into the haven.  

It is now clear that grand tax avoidance far exceeds the grand corruption. But it is not illegal. It should be. As President Obama said, it's the fact that these practices are legal that's the problem. 

Shaxon also points out that almost nowhere in reports by the four global accounting firms is there any mention of tax havens and tax avoidance. They are the fixers of this global pillage. As he says when you arrive at Geneva or Findel, the beneficiary locations in Switzerland and Luxembourg, no one will ask you for a bribe.

So the TI’s Corruption Perception Index is just that – the perception of Western business. For years we have seen countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Nigeria as the most corrupt countries but the countries that actually handle, hide and benefit from global corruption in Europe are Switzerland, Luxembourg and, of course, the City of London.  I look forward to David Cameron’s analysis and comments on this when he gives the opening speech at the global corruption conference on May 12th

Illicit financial flows after ‘Panamania’: Seizing the moment

Thursday, 28 April 2016 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Date & Time: Thursday 28th April, 18:00-20:00 
Venue: Lecture Theatre ELG03, Drysdale Building, City University, London, EC1V 0HB
Listen to podcast
Speakers: Dr Dereje Alemayehu (Chair, Global Alliance for Tax Justice), Batanayi Katongera (Executive Editor, Transfer Pricing Inside Africa) Daniel Balint-Kurti (Investigative Journalist, Global Witness) & Rachel Owens (Senior Campaigner, Global Witness)
Chair: Nicholas Shaxson (Author, Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World)
According to a high level report by the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa, the African continent loses more than $50 billion every single year through illicit financial flows. In fact, facilitated by webs of secretive tax havens and corruption, more money leaves Africa through illegal practices each year than it receives in foreign aid and foreign direct investment combined. For years, African policymakers and researchers have played a central role in the movement calling for tax justice, but with the Panama Papers leak, the issue has been thrust to the forefront of the global agenda.
Next month, UK Prime Minister David Cameron will host a global anti-corruption summit to address issues of tax evasion and money laundering. At this key moment, how can the momentum be seized to address a system that continues to rob Africa of billions of dollars each year? Where does the responsibility lie, and what urgent actions need to be taken? Join the Royal African Society and Tax Justice Network in the heart of the City of London as we address these pressing issues with a panel of experts.


This event is free but registration is required. Please register your place on Eventbrite





Infrastructure and Mining Projects in Africa - What Are the Heritage Implications?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm


Speaker: Dr Noemie Arazi (University of Brussels)  Chair: Professor Kevin MacDonald, UCL
Date & Time: Tuesday 10 March, 18:30 - 20:00 
Venue: UCL Common Ground, South Wing, Wilkins Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT
In this lecture, archaeologist Dr Noemie Arazi looks at the devastating effects that infrastructural and mining sector projects have had on heritage resources. In many countries, heritage legislation is out of date, and because preservation is not seen to have any immediate effect on the eradication of poverty, it has been side-lined in the development agenda.  Looking at case studies from Central Africa, Dr Arazi will give a context to the situation and present the tentative advances made by national and international practitioners  in the preservation of Africa’s historical artefacts.  

Dr Noemie Arazi holds a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology at UCL. Her study consisted of a comparative analysis using oral traditions, written sources and archaeological data to reconstruct Dia’s occupational history, one of West Africa’s oldest urban centres located in the Inland Niger Delta of Mali. Alongside her doctoral studies Noemie has also worked on archaeological salvage projects with the Museum of London Archaeological Service.

After her PhD, she was the coordinator of Project Yesod at the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Preservation, an NGO in Belgium, then under the direction of Neil Silberman. Project Yesod’s objective was to place minority heritage, such as Jewish and Muslim cultures, in the mainstream of European heritage.

In 2008 Noemie was asked to direct Heritage Management Services (HMS), the University of Brussels’ first spin-off company in the human sciences. HMS brought her back to Africa as its activities focused on cultural heritage impact assessments and archaeological salvage in the context of infrastructural development and natural resource extraction in sub-Saharan Africa. Through HMS Noemie has been at the forefront of advocating the implementation and oversight of heritage protection in environmental and social management systems as well as on publishing non-compliance cases on this issue.

Noemie is currently launching ‘Groundworks’, a non-profit organisation that will in addition to heritage assessments also focus on community participation. She is a scientific collaborator at the Research Centre of Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Brussels (CReA), and an active member of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) and the International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM). 


This is part of the joint seminar series on Heritage & Politics, organised in collaboration with the UCL African Studies Research Centre. Please reserve your place on Eventbrite.