Africa is still plagued with robust taxation laws as well as state practice on taxation. The constitutions of African countries especially the 1996 Constitution of Cameroon do not create an adequate tax friendly environment that encourages favourable investment opportunities especially for local investors. International investors have to go through vigorous lobbying procedures to benefit from investment opportunities in the country. Trade and taxation bottle necks are a major reason for the country’s poor doing business ranking as evidenced in the World Bank’s Doing Business report of 2016 and other reports like the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World : 2016 Annual report.
The Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA), Cameroon, amongst other African based think tanks, was invited to the International Tax and Investment Center’s (ITIC) 8th Africa Tax Dialogue that took place in Cape Town on the 15th and the 18th of November 2016. The meeting was aimed at bringing together African and international taxation experts, academics, think tank experts as well as industry tax and finance officers to reflect upon salient issues on taxation and investment with Ministry of Finance and Tax Administration officials from across Africa. CACLiTA was represented at this very important meeting by its President Mr. Asanji Burnley Nguh. Other high profile participants included the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) delivered the opening speech of the meeting.
The agenda included a mix of Africa-specific taxation challenges, as well as how global tax reform initiatives such as base erosion and profit sharing (BEPS) should be considered in an African context. Discussions also centered on Africa’s Regional Economic Outlook. Concerning Africa’s Regional Economic Outlook, the continent’s medium-term prospects for economic growth remains favourable but the sharp decline in commodity prices, tighter financing conditions, conflict in the Central African Republic, terrorist attacks by the Boko Haram in North Cameroon and a severe drought in Southern and Eastern Africa imply that many countries need to reset their policies. There was therefore need to engage in discussions on the adjustments in fiscal and monetary policies that are needed and the contours of economic diversification that should be pursued. Other sessions included discussions on retirement savings, taxation of mining, oil and gas, as well as discussions on tax consumption. A special workshop was also held on ‘Combatting the illicit Trade of Excisable Products’.
In addition to attending the African Tax Dialogue, the ITIC also invited six African based think tanks present to attend the launch of a new initiative-the Africa Tax and Investment Network. This initiative includes the Cameroon based CACLiTA, the Namibian based Chevauchee, the Tanzanian based Uhuru Initiative for Policy and Education (UIPE), the Kenyan based East African Policy Centre (EAPC), the Malawian based Center for Free Market Enterprise (CFME) and the Mozambican based Center for Mozambican and International Studies. The aim of this initiative was to engage the invited think tanks to investigate on the tax and investment climate in Africa, as well as reflect and propose solutions to the ongoing challenges. It was also an opportunity to involve the concerned African think tanks in monthly and bi-monthly conference calls, information sharing sessions, ITIC Africa programs as well as the upcoming Spring 2017 International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings.
It is believed that it is important to have pro-growth, taxpayer organizations like CACLiTA participate in such encounters, not only to share own country experiences, but to equally propose solutions to the robust tax atmosphere witnessed in countries in the Central African region especially Cameroon. It is hoped that participating in such meetings will advance CACLiTA’s pro-growth reform agendas in Cameroon and in the Central African region.
Chofor Che is contributor to Africanliberty.org and co-founder and Chair at the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action, (CACLiTA), Cameroon. He is also contributor and consultant with other initiatives like the Moroccan based LibreAfrique.org and the South African based, In On Africa. He has over 10 years of working experience with the government of Cameroon.