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Nigerian Chair Highlights Blockchain and AI as Tools Against Illicit Financial Flows in Africa

ByDayne Lee

Jul 1, 2024

Nigerian Chair Highlights Blockchain and AI as Tools Against Illicit Financial Flows in Africa

At the recent Pan-African Conference on Illicit Financial Flows and Taxation, Olanipekun Olukoyede, the chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), emphasized the critical role of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in combating illicit financial flows (IFFs) in Africa. This annual conference, hosted by the African Union, serves as a pivotal gathering for stakeholders from across the continent to discuss and strategize on ways to curb IFFs and improve taxation systems.

Annual Losses and Technological Solutions

Olukoyede pointed out the staggering $88.6 billion lost annually by African nations due to IFFs. He advocated for the use of advanced technological tools like data analytics, blockchain, and AI to strengthen asset tracking and recovery processes. These technologies could play a significant role in enhancing the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures across the continent.

The EFCC chairman stressed the importance of establishing robust legal frameworks and enhancing capacity building at national, regional, and international levels. Such structures are essential for fostering effective collaboration and ensuring the successful implementation of technology in financial monitoring and governance.

Highlighting the potential benefits of recovering these vast sums, Olukoyede noted that such resources could significantly improve infrastructure, healthcare, and education across Africa. He referenced the successful repatriation of $311 million from the United States in 2020, which had been linked to former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, as a testament to what can be achieved through international cooperation.

Effective anti-corruption efforts in Africa require sustained international pressure to ensure cooperation from tax havens and jurisdictions with low tax rates. Olukoyede called for strong advocacy to secure the necessary global collaboration to combat these financial crimes.

Blockchain and AI Initiatives in Nigeria

In line with embracing cutting-edge technologies, Nigeria has taken significant steps towards integrating blockchain and AI into various sectors. The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) recently restructured the National Blockchain Policy Steering Committee (NBPSC) to update and enhance the policies guiding the implementation of Nigeria’s National Blockchain Policy.

NITDA has also been active in promoting the incorporation of AI into Nigeria’s security framework to bolster effectiveness. The Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, emphasized the potential of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) in revolutionizing the security sector.

Promoting AI Development

To further support the growth of AI in Nigeria, NITDA has initiated several projects, including the establishment of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and the development of a National Artificial Intelligence Policy. These initiatives aim to foster innovation and ensure comprehensive adoption of AI technologies across various sectors.

As Africa faces the dual challenges of illicit financial flows and the need for enhanced taxation systems, the integration of blockchain and AI offers a promising path forward. By harnessing these technologies, African nations can improve transparency, enhance financial accountability, and foster a more secure economic environment. The efforts by Nigerian officials and organizations to lead in this technological integration highlight the potential for significant advancements in governance and anti-corruption efforts across the continent.

Featured image credit: DALL-E by ChatGPT

Dayne Lee

With a foundation in financial day trading, I transitioned to my current role as an editor, where I prioritize accuracy and reader engagement in our content. I excel in collaborating with writers to ensure top-quality news coverage. This shift from finance to journalism has been both challenging and rewarding, driving my commitment to editorial excellence.

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