African Giving Knowledge Base
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The Rosetta Stone, created in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic era under the reign of King Ptolemy V, is an archaeological gem for history buffs, documenting a decree in three ancient scripts: demotic, hieroglyphics, and ancient Greek. It is credited as the key to understanding the language of the ancient empire. But it was also key to their economics: the Stone was a virtual tax agreement granting mega exemptions to priests, military and other elites, and in the process, shifting the tax burden to the poor and the slaves. Operationalising poverty required governance: it would fall to the priests and other philanthropists to provide carefully managed 'relief' when things became unbearable. The purpose, of course, was maintaining the system rather than changing it.
This paper will consider the interrelationship between illicit financial flows (IFFs) and philanthropy in the South African and African economies. The objective of this paper is to explore ways in which African philanthropy can support efforts to improve economic governance and reduce IFFs. Illicit flows have been estimated at over US$1.2 trillion globally in 2012, with particularly harmful effects in vulnerable economies and in African extractive economies in particular (Global Integrity Foundation, 2013; UNECA, 2014). The issue is multi-faceted and involves philanthropic organisations at several different levels: firstly as organisations themselves, secondly with regard to the organisations and individuals with which they work, and thirdly, at a broader scale, in terms of their influence, advocacy and campaign efforts aimed at structural change in the macro economy for the benefit and wellbeing of the poor and excluded. The third is important since the scale of funds that philanthropy can provide to ameliorate poverty, inequality, social exclusion and clean environments is currently considerably offset by the amount of resources directed away from the vulnerable due to IFFs and the consequences of the way the global economy is designed and regulated more generally. Ameliorating IFFs requires building cross-issue networks and platforms for advocacy and campaigning; moving to an African philanthropy narrative and funding base; improving internal transparency; while continuously acting to reduce opacity in the giving sector and beyond, in order to build economic justice.
In the Philanthropy & Development in Southern Africa series, three related research papers; on philanthropy and resource governance (Shauna Mottiar), on illicit flows and tax (Khadija Sharife), and on illicit flows and the potential and policy required to change economic structures (Sarah Bracking), all focus on the contemporary and enduring problem of economic injustice in Africa in the context of huge and increasing outflows of illegally transferred wealth. The three papers explore illicit financial flows as both cause and consequence of malign structures of political economy, and then ask what philanthropists can best do about the agenda of illicit flows and economic justice.
Philanthropic practice in the resource extraction sector is significantly under researched and forms the basis for this study. An obvious concern for social justice scholars and development scholars alike is that massive profits accumulated from resource extraction initiatives in Africa are seldom re-invested in the communities directly impacted or even more broadly in the development agendas of countries that house these resources. This paper considers the role of philanthropy in the resource governance debate. It begins by outlining the scope of resource governance and considering understandings of philanthropy. Drawing on preliminary evidence from three (random) examples of resource extraction in Africa, it argues that philanthropic practice has some way to go before reaching its optimal potential and that further research is required to gain more insight into this potential. The paper concludes with a discussion on philanthropy's role in resource governance and incorporates a series of recommendations.
What are the key ingredients that are required to make "good development" happen and how can they be fostered? The story behind the well: a case study of successful community development in Makutano, Kenya is a new publication from the GFCF and the Coady International Institute. It tells the story of Makutano, a community in rural Kenya, which over the course of the last fourteen years has transformed itself from a poor, inaccessible and arid "outback" into a thriving hotbed of people-led development.
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