Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) is a pan-African research and advocacy organisation established in 2007 and a member of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ). Through its Nairobi Secretariat, TJNA collaborates closely with its member organisations and other civil society partners across Africa to curb illicit financial flows (IFFs) and promote progressive taxation systems. TJNA advocates for pro-poor tax policies and the strengthening of tax systems to promote domestic resource mobilisation (DRM). TJNA also plays a leading role in global coalitions committed to tackling the phenomena of global tax avoidance and evasion and achieving fundamental reforms of the current global financial architecture.
Since its inception, TJNA’s work has evolved enormously, to an increasingly high profile in the tax and development field, and significant growth in the network’s membership, activities and workforce. In 2016, TJNA embarked upon developing its 2nd strategic plan covering the period 2016-2020. In a rapidly changing tax justice landscape, TJNA has resolved to focus its strategic approach on policy influencing through knowledge generation; Campaigns and outreach; and institutional sustainability. During this 3rd strategic period, TJNA’s work will be centred on its flagship “Stop the Bleeding Campaign” which will shape its more concerted advocacy efforts. The network will also be led by an ambitious new target to grow the network to reach 100 members. TJNA’s growing portfolio of work will be structured and implemented through four new thematic focus areas, organised as follows: Tax and the International Financial Architecture; Tax and Extractives; Tax and Inequality; Tax and Investments. TJNA will also continue to with capacity building and strategic convening of wide range of stakeholders via its well-developed outreach programme including: The International Tax Justice Academy, an annual media training, support to the African Parliamentary Network on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFS) and Taxation (APNIFFT) and the pan-African Conference on IFFs and Taxation.
TJNA grew out of the efforts of 7 founding organisations following the World Social Forum held in Nairobi in 2007. Their interest in working together on tax justice led to the formation of a small steering group charged with raising awareness of the many challenges facing African tax systems. For the first time the fundamental role of taxation in contributing to development, and the many weaknesses of African taxation systems, were being introduced onto the agendas of African civil society organisations (CSOs).
The need to raise awareness around taxation and to develop a genuine understanding of tax policies and systems emerged as the central challenge faced by CSOs interested in working in this field. This was considered particularly important with regards to the global facets of taxation debates: such as the issue of global tax transparency, the promotion of automatic exchange of information (AEoI) between countries for taxation purposes and confronting the huge issue of illicit financial flows (IFFs) draining resources from developing countries. Such problems were relatively little known and understood amongst CSO audiences.
Initial work undertaken in Africa focused heavily on awareness raising and research. A series of regional awareness raising meetings were held across east, west and central Africa. These meetings led to greater interest and activity of local and national CSOs, as well as the generation of the highly referenced country reports on taxation in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone. Essentially, these were baseline surveys on taxation in the selected countries, critical capacity building tools that also formed the basis for future policy and advocacy efforts. This then enabled TJNA and its members to start engaging with African leaders and other policy makers around the subject of tax policy reforms.
The institutionalisation of TJNA as a network organisation was formulated under the global “Towards Tax Justice” project3 and enabled the creation of a formal Secretariat in 2009. The Network developed its first strategy for the period 2012-2016. This plan was revised and guided the planning and operations through this period and presented for 2013-2016. This second strategic plan of the network will guide work up until 2020.
From its earliest beginnings TJNA has sought to build a diverse membership base, out of the recognition that to achieve change at a pan-African level the strategy of coalition building, and partnership development is central. Entering into partnerships with like-minded organisations in Africa and around the world has enabled TJNA’s membership to grow and provide the network in Africa with strong allies to advance the cause of tax justice. In 2011, for example, TJNA and Oxfam Novib developed a project dubbed “Capacity for Research and Advocacy for Fair Taxation”. This initiative facilitated a sustained investment in awareness-raising and capacity building in pilot countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. Increasing membership base in Africa be a central plank of TJNA’s strategic plan.
Forming global alliances has also been critical. In 2011, TJNA joined with several organisations to form the global Task Force on Financial Transparency and Economic Development. This was renamed Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) in 2012. The FTC’s work focuses mainly on tax transparency issues as well as looking at the international architecture for financial transparency. TJNA sits on its coordinating committee. In 2013, TJNA joined the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ), a body rallying tax justice campaigners across the globe. GATJ’s overarching campaign theme is to ‘‘make multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes’’. It relies on its regional network members, such as TJNA, to support its strategy and campaigning work.
With over 37 member-organisations working across the continent, TJNA continues its task of advocating for pro-poor tax regimes and the strengthening of tax regimes to promote domestic resource mobilisation.
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Our partners have worked with us to promote a socially just and progressive taxation system in Africa through innovative and successful programmes. Their support was key in achieving our Vision and Mission.
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