The Head of Special Investigation Unit, South Africa, Advocate Andy Mothibi
The Adviser and Head of Public Sector Governance for Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr Roger Koranteng
The Senior Manager for Integrity and Prevention Division of the African Development Banks, Ms Florence Dennis
Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies on the continent
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to thank the organisers, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the African Development Bank for partnering with South Africa’s Special Investigating Unit to host this important High-Level Leadership and Management Training Programme for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa.
As Africans, we need to adapt to technological advances so that we can be better equipped to tackle corruption. Those who engage in acts of corruption these days use sophisticated systems and anti-corruption agencies in Africa must embrace technological innovations so that the agenda of fighting corruption can be given an impetus.
If we are going to continue the fight against corruption with outdated methods and operations which are paper driven which we have grown accustomed to, we must forget about winning this battle. We need systems that will detect and prevent corruption; and areas that we need to explore include automation, big data analysis and collaboration.
Elsewhere in the world, predictive analysis of data and visualizations that determine corruption trends are tools at the disposal of anti-corruption agencies who use them to gain valuable insight onto the work of criminal networks and corruption syndicates.
In Africa, our co-operation should enable us to detect suspicious transactions, unexplained wealth and illicit collusions that undermine our processes of accountability more on contracting.
The fight against corruption must not have borders and we need to enhance areas of cooperation so that our anti-corruption agencies can cross check information and curb projects that are susceptible to corruption. Our processes should be integrated and simplified so that corruption investigations do not become victims of bureaucracy as that will be detrimental to the transparent governments we are working towards on the continent.
This training programme must galvanise heads of anti-corruption agencies into making the process of combating corruption in Africa a resounding success. We must share expertise and best practices on strengthening our anti-corruption processes and the prevention of illicit financial flows.
Proliferation of technology is at the centre of winning the battle against corruption and Africa must make a leap towards embracing new technologies. The collaborative frameworks that will be formalized arising from this programme must factor in technology which will in no doubt enable improved performance on anti-corruption agencies in the fight against corruption in Africa which is your theme.
Corruption is the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world. We need to emphasize that corruption is not only a phenomenon for Africa, but it ravages all continents and its manifestation has dire consequences for developing countries across the world. It is estimated that the cost of corruption equals more than 5% of global GDP with over 1 trillion US Dollars paid in bribes each year.
The United Nations, taking all of this into account, estimated that “corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost 1.26 trillion US Dollars for developing countries per year. No wonder, therefore, that in its global conference on sustainable development, the UN declared that for mankind to achieve sustainable development, the international community had “to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms”.
In Africa, the impact of corruption on development is severe as it was estimated that corruption costs the continent over 148 billion US Dollars per annum. Moreover, 50% of tax revenue, 25% of the continent’s GDP and 30 billion US dollars in aid for Africa was eaten up by corruption.
Africa ranks the lowest amongst global regions in the corruption perception index and countries on the continent average 32 out of 100 in the CP scores. Six of the bottom ten countries in the corruption perception index are African.
According to Transparency International, 43% of Africans are living in poverty while over 50 billion US dollars’ worth of stolen assets flow out of Africa every year. They also say misappropriated funds account for a 25% loss of development in Africa.
Against this background, the African Union designated 2018 as the year for winning the fight against corruption. Among others, they signed several treaties aimed at ensuring that democracy, the rule of law and good governance prevail on the continent.
This led to 40 African countries signing the convention on anti-corruption where they collectively and continually look at implementing strategies and share information that can be effective across the continent.
We need strong institutions and a systematic approach that will block the looting of resources that can be used to develop Africa. Institutions will not be built overnight; we must dedicate ourselves to the cause of their development.
One of the institutions that must enforce accountability is the justice system. Those who transgress on accountability in Africa must be held accountable for their actions irrespective of offices they hold. We will record achievements in the fight against corruption once citizens on the continent see people who engage in corruption sent to prison. The erosion of trust in government institutions that fight corruption can only be addressed through pragmatic approaches which must yield results.
We need a new level of activism on the continent more particularly from young people. It is encouraging to see the youth becoming emboldened in the fight for greater transparency by authorities. Social media platforms must become tool for advocacy and be used to expose corruption and this must be a norm among the youth.
Let us work together to follow monies flown from Africa that are stashed offshore by corrupt elements and their associates. This training must be able to facilitate the tracing of ill-gotten monies and arrest those behind such deeds.
We must enforce the culture of adhering to good governance and we are looking up to you as heads of anti-corruption agencies to assist governments in Africa to eliminate all forms of corruption and maladministration. I have the privilege of declaring open this senior level leadership and management training for heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa.