Have you heard of Afrobarometer? They’re a great organization that asks more detailed questions of citizens in African countries, providing unique insights and country-specific polling data – something we really can’t get anywhere else at the moment.
Their data can help us understand what is most important to citizens in developing countries, and how we can ensure those needs are part of our transparency agenda. For example, what do Africans think of taxes for development? According to Afrobarometer’s latest survey, Taxation, Transparency and Compliance, which covered 29 sub-Saharan African countries, about 60 percent of those who were surveyed are supportive. Here are the top three findings from the survey:
1. Africans are ready to help pay for development
66 percent say citizens must pay taxes for countries to develop. Source: Afrobarometer
2. 1 in 3 African citizens say “most” or “all” tax officials are corrupt
3. 76 percent of African citizens say it is difficult to find out how governments use tax revenue.
How the individual countries stack up. Source: Afrobarometer
It’s important that governments know what their citizens’ priorities are, and in an ideal world, use results like these to influences policy change in those countries. This data shows that citizens are willing to pay for their own development through taxes, very much in line with a new UN poll that says citizens around the world rank “an honest and responsive government” among their top five priorities.
However, when citizens don’t have data about how much their country is collecting in taxes, and how that revenue is spent, it’s very difficult to combat corruption. That’s why we need to keep working for transparency of resource flows, so citizens can better hold their governments accountable for delivering the services they want and need.
From picking priority areas to opening up country budgets to ensuring the revenues from oil, gas and mining are used for development, there is an urgent need for greater transparency.
Corruption has a damaging impact on the economies of African nations, and much more information is needed to stop it. That’s why in Europe, ONE is lobbying EU leaders to crack down on phantom firms that rob Africa of much-needed resources by making it easy for money to be siphoned away from the citizens in developing countries.
In the US, ONE is urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to re-issue strong rules to enact the law that makes oil, gas and mining companies publish what they pay to governments. Shedding light on these payments will make it easier for citizens to track the profits made from their countries’ natural resources and ensure those resources are used for development.