Africa Loses Out on Its Gold Exports

In an example of how Africa’s governments fail to benefit from their mineral sales, a Reuters analysis showed that the United Arab Emirates in 2016 imported more gold from Africa than any other country but almost none of this was listed in the export figures of the African countries concerned. 

The Reuters study showed that the UAE imported $ 15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, about 446 tonnes of gold. Of the 46 African countries from which the UAE imports gold, 25 had no evidence of gold exports to the UAE yet sent $ 7.4 billion worth of gold to the Gulf country. The remaining 21 African countries had records of gold exports to the UAE. But the UAE recorded $ 3.9 billion more gold coming to its shores from them then they recorded leaving theirs. 

The study noted that most of the large mining corporations in Africa do not send their gold to the UAE at all. China and Switzerland are the primary destinations for formal gold production. The UAE figures are a sign of how widespread informal and illegal gold mining is across the continent. War-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo have their goal smuggled to countries like Rwanda and Uganda where middlemen then ship it onwards to other markets. Even four years ago China was the largest importer of African gold but in 2016 the UAE’s imports were worth more than double that of China’s. 

The primary economic loss for Africa:  the miners receiving a fraction of the worth of their product and African governments losing out on all taxes or export duties. 

Gold worth billions smuggled out of Africa


April 30, 2019

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhury

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta Aspen Centre

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.