Report: Illegal Logging, Fishing Prolongs Poverty In Africa

Report: Illegal Logging, Fishing Prolongs Poverty In Africa

Africa is losing billions of dollars through illegal logging and fishing, which has left the continent grappling with prolonged poverty, former head of the United Nations Koffi Annan said in the latest Africa Progress report.

The report, set to be launched on Thursday, , estimates that the losses from logging amount to $17 billion a year, while fishing fleets flouting international conventions are costing West Africa at least $1.3 billion a year.

It says that despite strong growth since the turn of the millennium, progress in poverty reduction has been slow and that by 2030 Africa will account for 80 percent of the world’s poor.

Annan says that Africa imports $34bn of food but could feed itself within five years if agricultural productivity improved. Almost $50bn a year needs to be found for roads, railways and other public investment projects.

“No region has less-developed road networks and energy systems than Africa,” Annan said. “Changing this picture will require significant up-front capital spending, prefaced by the development of bankable proposals and the emergence of new business models. The current financing gap has been estimated at around US$48 billion”

The report further drew parallels between the plunder of logging and fishing resources with the money lost to Africa through tax evasion.

Offshore tax havens

“In each case, Africa is being integrated through trade into markets characterized by high levels of illegal and unregulated activity. In each case resources that should be used for investment in Africa are being plundered through the activities of local elites and foreign investors. And in each case African governments and the wider international community are failing to put in place the multilateral rules to combat what is a global collective action problem.”

The report says unregistered industrial trawlers unloading illegal catches are the economic equivalent of mining companies evading taxes and offshore tax havens.

” The same is true of logging activity, with the forests of West and Central Africa established as hotspots for the plunder of timber resources,” it added.

Annan’s panel says there needs to be a collective global agreement to ensure a “blue revolution” for ocean management.

All governments should ratify and implement the 2009 Port State Measures Agreement to tackle illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and establish a global register of fishing vessels. African governments should increase fines on IUU vessels, support artisanal fishing, increase transparency, and provide full disclosure of the terms on which commercial fishing permits are issued.

On forests, the report calls for all commercial logging concession contracts to be subject to full disclosure, along with the beneficial ownership structures of the companies involved. Concessions should be provided with the informed consent of the communities involved.