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Addressing Africa’s Tax Woes 

On 22 November a resolution from the Africa Group at the UN passed overwhelmingly, marking a step towards a United Nations framework convention on international tax cooperation. This would shift control of international tax rules from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – formed of 38 richer countries – to the UN, where the 193 member states are on a more equal footing. Governments in Africa rely more than those elsewhere on tax yields from multinational corporations – not least because of the difficulties they face in collecting domestic tax. But these corporations can – at the moment quite legally – avoid tax by booking their profits in low-tax jurisdictions. In 2021 economists Javier Garcia-Bernardo and Petr Jansky estimated that this profit-shifting costs African countries about 7% of their total tax revenues. The OECD framework has been described as “pretty much a colonial tax system”.