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AU Summit focuses on fighting corruption
February 8, 2018, 11:28 am

The 30th session of African Union (AU) Summit, which drew the continent’s leaders and heads of state to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa last weekend, has decided to make 2018 the ‘African Anti-Corruption Year’, and to make addressing corruption a central plank of governance across the 54-nation bloc.

In his key-note address to the two-day gathering, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, hailed the strong AU-UN partnership and cooperation that were grounded on the sound principles of human rights and good governance.Reaffirming the UN’s commitment to member states and the people of Africa, the UN Chief added, “I strongly believe Africa is one of the greatest forces for good in our world.”

Highlighting several initiatives that the two organizations are carrying out across the continent, the Secretary-General said the partnership could be further bolstered in five key areas: addressing corruption; cooperation in peace and security; inclusive and sustainable development; climate change; and international migration.

Commending the AU for holding the Summit under the theme of ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’, and deciding to focus on combatting corruption throughout 2018, Mr. Guterres promised the full support of the UN to the endeavor.

The UN Chief noted that an unimpeachable commitment to transparency and accountability was needed to combat the “far-reaching and devastating” impact of corruption, tax evasion and illicit financial flows in Africa. He also added that the international community has a role to play in combating tax evasion, money laundering and the elimination of illicit financial flows that deprive Africa of its essential resources.

In his opening remarks to the Summit on 28 January, the AU Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat told delegates that this year’s summit will deliberate on mechanisms for combating corruption, as a means of transforming Africa. ‘‘The year 2018 is the year of the battle against corruption and crucial decisions will be taken here whose highlight is institutional reform,” the chairperson said.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) estimates that every year more than US$148 billion, representing around 25 percent of the continent’s GDP growth, are drained out of Africa through various corrupt activities. In a forceful commentary ahead of the Summit, the ECA Executive-Secretary, Vera Songwe, said the only logical and winning formula for true independence and for a transformed Africa was that the continent collectively conquered corruption.

"Where is the Africa we want when our youth do not believe their leaders and their institutions to deliver what they need most, when that social contract is broken," Ms. Songwe asked. "How can we get the Africa we want when women in rural Africa cannot get access to land and collateral to feed their families and ensure good health for their kids, because of corruption? How can we get the Africa we want when we let billions leak out of the continent only to spend time begging for minimal sums because of corruption?"

"We are at a cross road — the youth are waiting, desperate and anxious for what path the leaders gathered here today will allow them to chart. That is why the topic of corruption or anti-corruption is so appropriate," said Ms. Songwe.

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