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Africa Anti-Corruption Day: COVID-19 relief funds and illicit financial flows top concerns

On Africa Anti-Corruption Day, 28 Transparency International chapters across Africa have sent an open letter to the leaders of the African Union (AU), reminding them of their anti-corruption commitments and urging additional measures as a matter of urgency.

The organisations highlighted their concern over the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely affected the livelihoods of all African citizens and deepened inequalities. Extensive funds are needed to reverse these effects, but corruption threatens to divert money away from important areas like health care and food. These organisations are therefore calling for states to open up procurement information, and sanction and prosecute any abuses of COVID-19 recovery funds.

The letter also recognises that tens of billions of dollars leave Africa every year in illicit funds, which is money that could be ploughed into essential public services for its people. It calls on leaders to accelerate strategies to combat these illicit financial flows and roll out reforms such as “know your customer” requirements and an end to secretive company structures.

While the near-universal ratification by African States of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption is commendable, the letter calls attention to the poor translation of this into action at the national level.

Read the full letter in English and in French.

Rueben Lifuka, vice-chair of Transparency International, said:

"This is a critical moment for the African region and its people. If corruption is not addressed urgently, it will block efforts to rebuild after the devastating pandemic and the region’s hopes of charting a path to a stronger future. Fairly and transparently managing large-scale COVID-19 recovery funds and preventing billions of dollars from illegally exiting the region through illicit means should be top issues for all leaders. On this Africa Anti-Corruption Day, we need the AU and governments of African states to heed the experts and action strong, decisive anti-corruption reforms.”

Notes to editors:

Experts from the region are available for interview:

  • Paul Banoba, Transparency International’s Africa regional advisor
  • Samuel Kaninda, Transparency International’s Africa regional advisor
  • National spokespeople are available to speak about corruption in many countries.

For any press enquiries, please contact:

Transparency International Secretariat

[email protected]