Beneficial Ownership Transparency in Africa in 2022

Rachel Etter-Phoya, Njutapvoui Kpoumie Idriss Hamed, Francis Kairu, Florencia Lorenzo, Eva Danzi

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


Beneficial ownership transparency is gaining ground in Africa. At the start of 2023, 23 of 54 African countries have laws and regulations requiring the real people - the beneficial owners - behind legal vehicles to disclose themselves to a government authority. More than half of the continent has committed to publicly disclose the beneficial owners in sectors prone to corruption and fraud: public procurement and the extractive industries.

Lifting the veil of secrecy that shrouds the owners of companies, partnerships, trusts and foundations is a central tool for African governments to tackle illicit financial flows. The case studies included in this paper - from Cameroon, Kenya, Liberia, and Senegal - show the impacts of beneficial ownership transparency or the consequences of its absence. The absence of beneficial ownership transparency may have helped facilitate the capture of state resources and minerals by politically connected elite, and the theft of funds meant for responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the wake of the scandals illustrated in the case studies, African nations introduced new laws for beneficial ownership transparency or sealed loopholes in existing legislation.

This paper examines the commitments of all African countries to beneficial ownership transparency. It delves more deeply into the 18 African jurisdictions covered by the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index 2022. This includes assessing who has to register, when they have to register, and if the public has access to information on the real owners of companies.

For effective beneficial ownership transparency, African countries can take further action, as outlined by the Tax Justice Network’s Roadmap for Effective Beneficial Ownership Transparency. For beneficial ownership transparency to help in the fight against illicit financial flows, all owners of all legal vehicles need to register and keep their information up to date with a government authority. All information should be accessible to the public, and there should be rigorous verification mechanisms in place and sanctions that are strong enough to act as a deterrent.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2023


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