Africa is losing more than 69 billion US dollars every year in illicit financial outflows through tax evasions and fraud, says former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.

This is because of a lack of functional institutions, he said at the African Green Revolution Forum here Thursday, while calling on African leaders to come up with effective policies and strong institutions which will survive changes in administration and political leadership.

He urged them to live up to their commitments in action and not words, he said, noting that Africa is the only continent in the world which traded less with itself. About 80 percent of exports from Africa are shipped overseas to destinations like the European Union, the United States and China.

The fact that Africa trades more with outside countries than within itself leaves its member countries highly vulnerable to illicit financial flows and international economic shocks. In 2015, illicit financial outflows increased from 50 billion USD to 69 billion USD through tax evasions and fraud due to lack of functional institutions and effective polices.

Delegates at the forum revealed that Africa spent about 35 billion USD on food imports and also incurred post-harvest losses to the tune of more than 4.0 billion USD every year.

This needs to change because Africa has been endowed with huge tracts of arable land which is just lying idle. It was also revealed that Africa would be able to feed itself and the world simply through empowering the smallholder farmers and increasing value addition.

The average fertilizer used per hectare in Africa is 10 kilogrammes compared with Latin America at 190 kg and Asia at 220 kg per hectare.

If Africa could advance in technology and innovation it has great potential to feed itself and the world, said Kanayo Mwanze, president of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).