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Transparency International statement on the Commission for Africa report

A unique opportunity to galvanise the fight against corruption in Africa and the wider global community

Transparency International (TI) welcomes the Commission for Africa’s report and its recommendations, and is especially encouraged by the report’s strong emphasis on the need to address corruption in Africa. This report, “provides a unique opportunity to galvanise both Africa and the wider global community to implement concrete measures aimed at improving Africa’s well-being” said TI Chairman Peter Eigen. He continued: “We welcome in particular the Commission’s recommendations to improve the mechanisms aimed at freezing and repatriating illicitly acquired African assets held abroad.”

With regard to anti-corruption measures TI, the leading global non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption, welcomed the Commission’s recommendations urging a new partnership between developed and developing countries, beginning with measures such as greater transparency in the operation of export credit agencies and the strengthening of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

TI strongly supports the Commission’s calls for early ratification of both the African Union and United Nations anti- corruption conventions. In relation to the UN Convention against Corruption, TI urges G-7 countries to follow through on their commitment to promptly ratify the UN Convention against Corruption, and take the lead in giving concrete support to this key global standard-setting instrument.

In spite of this recognition, TI believes, however, that some of the Commission’s anti-corruption recommendations are too general to have sufficient impact on the ground, for example with regard to the investigation and prosecution of bribery offences committed by OECD-based companies in Africa.

TI’s recommendations for more effective measures include adherence by all OECD-based companies to strong anti-bribery principles such as those enshrined in the UN Global Compact and elaborated in TI’s Business Principles for Countering Bribery. Further, all OECD Export Credit Agencies should share a common standard of anti-bribery rules, extending to the black-listing of corrupt companies.

“Although this report rightly urges a new partnership between developed and developing countries it does not recognise the extent to which corruption in much of Africa is entrenched and the unwillingness of corrupt elites to reform”, said Akere Muna, a member of TI’s Board of Directors and Chairman of TI Cameroon. He continued: “This has serious implications for the effectiveness of increased aid flows.” And, in relation to African countries, TI calls for the rejuvenation of NEPAD’s African Peer Review Mechanism in order to promote greater accountability and transparency on the part of African governments. In addition to this, the irreversible strengthening of key governance institutions such as the judiciary and parliament is crucial. Moreover, it is important to recognise the difficulty of combating embedded patronage networks that perpetuate corruption from one regime to another, and whose durability has been demonstrated in many African countries despite considerable democratic and economic reform over the last decade. Indeed, corruption poses an immediate danger to the gains achieved from these reforms and impacts most adversely on the urban and rural poor.

The Commission report will form the basis for a discussion at the next Group of Eight (G8) summit of leading industrialised nations at Gleneagles in July. “The Commission quite rightly captures the growing global consensus that the West carries a significant responsibility to refrain from fuelling corruption in Africa both directly and indirectly,” said Laurence Cockcroft, Board of Directors, Transparency International, Chairman, Transparency International (UK).

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