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Africans Siphon $1.3trn out of Continent in 30 Years

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Unrecorded illicit financial outflows from African continent over 30-year time span ranged from between $1.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion in real terms, according to a new joint report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Financial Integrity (GFI).

 These unrecorded illicit outflows considerably swamped cumulative net recorded flows over the same period.

As such, cumulative net resource outflows from Africa ranged from $597 billion to $1.4 trillion between 1980 and 2009.

Prepared by a joint team consisting of Dev Kar, GFI chief economist; Sarah Freitas, GFI economist; Jennifer Mbabazi Moyo, AfDB senior economist; and  Guirane Samba Ndiaye, AfDB economist, the study titled  “Illicit Financial Flows and the Problem of Net Resource Transfers from Africa: 1980-2009,” does not consider the drivers behind the illicit financial outflows, noting that country-specific case-studies would have to be performed to determine the underlying causes, which likely vary between African nations.

Also, much of the proceeds of drug trafficking, human smuggling, and other criminal activities—which are often settled in cash—are not included in this work.

The report launched at the 48th AfDB Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Morocco, also revealed that the African continent has been a long-term net creditor to the rest of the world.

“The resource drain from Africa over the last 30 years—almost equivalent to Africa’s current GDP—is holding back Africa’s lift-off,” said Prof. Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice-president of the African Development Bank.

“The traditional thinking has always been that the West is pouring money into Africa through foreign aid and other private sector flows, without receiving much in return. Our report turns that logic upside down – Africa has been a net creditor to the rest of the world for decades,” said Raymond Baker, President of GFI, a Washington-based research and advocacy organization.
However, the AfDB and GFI noted that such significant transfers of capital out of the continent are likely to have a negative effect on economic development.

“The African continent is resource-rich. With good resource husbandry, Africa could be in a position to finance much of its own development,” said AfDB’s Ncube.

“More than one trillion dollars flowed illicitly out of Africa over the past 30 years, dwarfing capital inflows, and stifling economic development,” noted GFI Chief Economist Dev Kar, who previously served as a senior economist at the IMF. “Curtailing these outflows should be paramount to policymakers in Africa and in the West because they drive and are, in turn, driven by a poor business climate and poor overall governance, both of which hamper economic growth.  The slower growth rate results in more aid dependency with foreign taxpayer funds filling the shortfall in domestic revenue—to the extent that tax evasion is a part of illicit flows.”

The AfDB and GFI offered a number of policy recommendations for boosting net resource transfers from Africa and curtailing illicit financial flows.

“The time for concerted action is now, with clear roles for national and international actors. African countries need to accord policies to stem these flows the same urgency as other priority policy measures. Countries should go beyond the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to ensure transparency along the entire resource value chain, as well as establish well-functioning Sovereign Wealth Funds,” said Issa Faye, manager in the African Development Bank’s Research Department.

“For every country losing money illicitly, there is another country absorbing it. These outflows are facilitated by financial opacity in advanced Western economies and offshore tax havens. Implementing transparency measures to curtail tax haven secrecy and anonymous shell companies is crucial to curtailing illicit flows,” added GFI’s Baker.

Measures recommended to boost net resource transfers into Africa and curtail illicit financial flows from the continent include, among other things: requiring banks and tax havens to regularly report to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) detailed deposit data by sector, maturity, and country of residence of deposit holders. The BIS must be permitted to widely disseminate this cross-border banking data for specific source and destination countries, ideally making the data publicly available on its website or, at the very least, to civil society and researchers.

They also called on Africa to address the problems posed by anonymous shell companies, foundations, and trusts by requiring confirmation of beneficial ownership in all banking and securities accounts, and demanding that information on the true, human owners of all corporations, trusts, and foundations be disclosed upon formation and be available in public registries; and ensure that the anti-money laundering regulations already on the books are strongly enforced.


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Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

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There were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) detections over a 7-month period in Nigeria, according to Kaspersky security solutions.

Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

Elsewhere in South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections, showing the growing desperation of the attacks.

The company reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programs (pornware, adware etc.) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.

These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the “grey zone” programmes that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.

Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are programmes that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves.

However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way. For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetising software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.

calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, Kaspersky researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware.

They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in 7-months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.

“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the programme is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals. The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programmes on their device and that in some cases, such programmes are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads,” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.

By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware.

Evaluating results over the same 7-month period in Nigeria, there were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much.

Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense. In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections.

Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances, Kaspersky said.


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Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

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Web giants including Facebook have struck a deal with advertisers on how to identify harmful content such as hate speech, after an impasse over the issue which led to boycotts of the platform.

Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

The agreement — which also included Twitter and YouTube — laid out for the first time a common set of definitions for hateful statements online.

In July, hundreds of advertisers including big-name consumer brands suspended advertising with Facebook as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, saying the social-media titan should do more to stamp out hatred and misinformation on its platform.

And earlier this month a group of celebrities — including Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry — stopped using Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, to push a similar message.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) said in a statement Wednesday: “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in collaboration with marketers and agencies through the Global Alliance for Responsible Media have agreed to adopt a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content and to collaborate with a view to monitoring industry efforts to improve in this critical area.”

The alliance was founded by the WFA and includes other major trade bodies.

According to the WFA, key areas of agreement included applying the alliance’s common definitions of harmful content; developing reporting standards for such content; establishing independent oversight; and rolling out tools for keeping advertisements away from harmful content.

The WFA said that properly defining online hate speech would remove the current problem of different platforms using their own definitions, which it said made it difficult for companies to decide where to put their ads.

“As funders of the online ecosystem, advertisers have a critical role to play in driving positive change and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the platforms on an action plan and timeline in order to make the necessary improvements,” said Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA.

Luis Di Como, executive vice-president of global media at Unilever, a major advertiser, sounded a note of cautious optimism.

He said: “The issues within the online ecosystem are complicated, and whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.”

Speaking in July, Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he remained adamant that the company did not want hate speech on the social network.

On Wednesday, the company’s vice-president for global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, said the agreement gave all parties “a unified language to move forward on the fight against hate online.”

 


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Nigeria, Others Facing ‘Millions of Cyber Attacks’ in 2020

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Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, continues to fall victim to millions of malware attacks and Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), according to the latest research from Kaspersky.

The IT security firm says its security solutions have reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of PUA (including pornware, adware) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.

PUAs are programs that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves, Kaspersky explains. However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way.

For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetizing software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.

By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware, according to Kaspersky.

“Evaluating results over the same seven-month period in Nigeria, there were 3,8 million malware attacks and 16,8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much. Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense.

In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections. Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances,” the company adds.

These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the ‘grey zone’ programs that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.

While calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, the researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware. They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in seven months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.

“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the program is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals.

“The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programs on their device and that in some cases, such programs are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads. This is why many security solutions, including ours, flags such programs to make sure users are aware of its presence, influence on their device and activity,” says Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.


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