Tomorrow May 22, 2018 history will be made in West African journalism as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) working with the Norbert Zongo Centre for Investigative Journalism (CENOZO), brought together some 13 journalists from 11 countries in the region to dig into 27.5 million files from the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Swiss Leaks and Offshore Leaks in a collaborative project that is the largest in the history of journalism in West Africa.
The individual countries in the investigative reporting project have worked on individual country-related investigations to be published collectively on Tuesday May 22. The investigations took some four months of digging, researching and cross-checking.
There is a Ghana story, exclusive to ghanabusinessnews.com and partners. Look out for it.
This collaboration is important for many reasons; one of them is the fact that the West African region lost an amount of $268 billion to illicit financial flows between 2004 and 2013, according to computation of figures published by the Global Financial Integrity.
The region with a population of about 335 million people, which is about one-third of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, has an estimated GDP of around $345 billion. The loss is therefore, approximately a colossal 78 per cent.
Nigeria suffers the biggest hit, with a loss of over $178 billion within that period.
The collaboration is similar to global projects put together by ICIJ in the past like the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers.
The impacts of Panama and Paradise Papers, all projects throwing light on tax avoidance and offshore companies have been felt around the world. Some countries covered in those papers have been able to retrieve so far, more than $500 million in taxes from companies and individuals who used offshore companies to hide their profits. The UK recently is deciding on beneficial ownership regimes for its overseas territories like the British Virgin Islands following the exposés in the global projects.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi