By: Elham Aboul Fateh
I could not believe what I read in Akhbar El Youm newspaper about the cost of corruption in Africa and that it has reached around 50 billion USD on annual basis.. a figure equal to a country’s budget.
The figure is shocking and needs response. That’s why I was very happy to learn that Egypt is about to host, for the first time, a conference on combating corruption in Africa for better future, tomorrow, Wednesday, at Sharm El-Sheikh.
Egypt, under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has a leading experience in this field. It started by launching the national strategy for combating corruption 2014-2018. The strategy main aims include advancing the government and administrative authorities’ performance, as well as improving the level of public services, promoting transparency and fairness at administrative paradigm. It included as well, making new laws and renewing the relevant laws to combat corruption, in addition to raising awareness about its dangers.
Among the results were the success of economic reform programs and improving Egypt’s credit ranking from negative to stable.
In addition, our status at the global competitiveness index improved from 118 to 100, the net direct investment doubled from $ 7.8 billion to $ 21.2 billion and the number of companies established increased from 8945 to 37691, an increase by 400%. The unemployment rates reduced from 13.2% to 11.98%. This was all due to the implementation of many major projects and the subsequent increase in the size of investments in many sectors, most notably the electricity, telecommunications, petroleum, transport and health sectors.
I imagine that if the $ 50 billion that Africa is losing because of corruption, was spent on the human development, building schools and hospitals, eliminating famines and the causes of war, Africa would have been one of the great world powers.
The African Forum for Combating Corruption, hosted by Egypt, is to be attended by a number of bodies, notably the Administrative Control Authority, the Ministries of Interior and Justice, heads of anti-corruption bodies in African countries, in the presence of more than 200 African officials.
This forum reflects Egypt’s insistence to provide its expertise to its African partners after achieving many goals in this field.
Although our continent is one of the richest in the world with its natural treasures, its inhabitants suffer from the deadly trinity ; poverty, illiteracy and disease, and above them all, wars, violence and confrontations. The biggest challenge, however, is corruption.
The continent suffer from corruption under the auspices of foreign powers, wishing to maintain the state of underdevelopment among Africans.. They have an interest in keeping African countries weak, fragile, unable to hold the corrupt accountable at home or face external ambitions.
It is no surprise that countries that are unable to confront terrorism and challenges of development are the same countries that are unable to openly confront corruption, and the facts of corruption have become a constant topic at world press, including a report by the New York Times on a number of businessmen and officials across Africa who resorted to fake companies to hide the profits they earn from the sale of natural resources and bribes. According to the newspaper, three oil ministers from Nigeria, in addition to a number of senior officials of the State Oil Company and two former governors, previously convicted in cases of money laundering, are among the names listed in the documents!
The upcoming conference is supposedly providing a road map that adopts policies and programs to eradicate corruption and underscore its risks and danger to development efforts. The gathering should serve as a sustainable forum for dialogue among the countries of the continent, to exchange information, experience and raising awareness of national measures and domestic experiences in combating corruption. This is in line with regional and international commitments and wish to develop the human resources capacities in various aspects of curbing corruption, and to strengthen the African government coordination in this field. This coordination really dates back to 2006 when the African Union Convention for the Prevention and Combating of Corruption entered into force. It was signed by 15 countries and signed by President El Sisi on the sidelines of the Addis Ababa summit in January 2017. It is very similar to the UN Convention against Corruption.
I hope that the conference would send a message to the world that Africa is creating a new era, as the lyrics of the song, to be performed by young Africans during upcoming opening, read. The first session will be opened by a speech from President El Sisi, during which I expect him to present his vision and suggestions for national efforts to tackle corruption in line with continental and international commitments.
I also hope that the conference will present the image of a new Africa that is open to the world and ready to discuss its own issues and causes objectively, and to accept differences as in sport, where the African Cup of Nations will be launched one week after the conclusion of the conference.