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Al Ahram Weekly – Egypt
By: Ahmed Morsy
The first African Anti-Corruption Forum (AACF), held in Sharm El-Sheikh International Congress Centre (SICC), concludes its sessions today.
The two-day AACF’s main objective was to encourage African countries to adopt policies, programmes and work plans that contribute to the eradication of corruption and to foreground how corruption can undermine development.
The AACF offers a platform for African countries to meet on a regular basis to exchange information, experiences and best practices for the purpose of consolidating capabilities and institutions in the fight against corruption.
“Organising this forum comes to highlight the Egyptian role in fighting corruption locally, under the supervision of the Administrative Control Authority, and emphasises Egypt’s eagerness to share its expertise with the rest of the African countries,” Ambassador Ashraf Rashed, head of Egypt’s National Governance Council (NGC) and director of the third session of AACF, told the Al-Ahram Weekly.
The Administrative Control Authority in Egypt, Rashed says, plays an important role in combating corruption at the national level, within the framework of a comprehensive strategy classified by the United Nations as one of the best practices in the prevention of corruption.
“AACF aims mainly at presenting what is happening at the local level to combat corruption, and also review the other African countries’ success stories. It also aims to strengthen coordination, cooperation and the exchange of experiences among African countries to jointly address this phenomenon,” the ambassador said.
The AU’s Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption provides a legal framework for combating corruption in Africa. The convention was adopted in 11 July 2003. Forty African countries have ratified the convention, Rashed explained.
In January 2017 Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi signed the convention on the sidelines of the Addis Ababa Summit and it was subsequently ratified by Egypt in July 2017.
“The main objective of the convention is to develop mechanisms to prevent, detect and criminalize corruption, recover money and assets seized by such crimes and apply good governance principles,” he said.
The documentary film Africa is on the Road to Development was screened during the conference, and participants reviewed the national anti-corruption efforts of a number of African countries, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana and Angola among them.
The role of anti-corruption efforts in development and ways to sustain the resources of the continent and serve sustainable development goals were discussed alongside the role of the media, civil society and the private sector in confronting corruption in Africa. The overall focus was on developing human resources, with the importance of training and technical assistance for anti-corruption officers and optimising modern technology — financial intelligence, mechanisation and digital transformation as mechanisms of administrative and financial governance — in fighting corruption in Africa highlighted.
Ways to support multilateral and bilateral coordination to combat corruption were examined, as well as strategies to tackle organised crime, human trafficking and the traffic in organs.
Fifty-one African countries attended the AACF, with more than 200 senior officials from regional and international organisations participating. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Kuwait were guests of honour.
The event was organised by the Justice, Foreign Affairs and Interior ministries, the Administrative Control Authority, the Central Auditing Organisation, Public Prosecution, Anti-Money Laundering Unit and the Illegal Gains Authority.
Corruption represents a major challenge to African nations and their aspirations for development. The African Union (AU) estimates that corruption and tax evasion costs Africa $50 billion a year.
The continent’s hugely valuable natural resources are degraded by the effects corruption. Many nations suffer from illicit financial inflows.
During the Africa 2018 Forum, held in December 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Al-Sisi pushed to boost cooperation with African states in the fields of governance and anti-corruption through the exchange of expertise and training and announced the launch of the second phase of Egypt’s National Strategy to Fighting Corruption 2019-2022. The announcement coincided with International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December.
The national strategy aims to fight corruption by setting specific objectives, policies and programmes. The goal is to create a culture opposed to corruption. At the core of the strategy are attempts to improve government performance, update anti-corruption legislation, strengthen judicial procedures and civil society participation, raise living standards and build greater trust between citizens and state institutions.
Egypt established the National Anti-Corruption Academy as part of the Administrative Control Authority under law 207/2017. Among its strategic goals is achieving excellence in the field of training programmes and research and to build the capacity of Administrative Control Authority staff in tackling corruption. Egypt already provides 250 training grants to fellow Africans working in the anti-corruption field.
“Egypt will always support efforts to strengthen African cooperation in particular, and international cooperation in general,” President Al-Sisi said during the Africa 2018 Forum.
During the same event Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said “Egypt will make major efforts during its 2019 presidency of the African Union to mobilise collective African efforts and activate the necessary mechanisms needed to address challenges hampering the continent’s development process, including armed conflict, political crises, the proliferation of terrorist groups and organised criminal gangs, illegal migration, high rates of refugees and internally displaced people”.
Egypt was unanimously elected the 2019 chair of the African Union (AU).
The AU dubbed 2018 Africa’s anti-corruption year and its summit in January 2018 was held under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, presented a report on efforts to tackle corruption across the continent to the AU Summit in February 2019.
Buhari’s report highlighted anti-corruption initiatives during the course of 2018, as well as the fact 40 states have now ratified the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Corruption.
The report identified best practices for combating corruption, encouraged young people to become involved in anti-corruption initiatives, and called for greater cooperation between the AU and UN in tackling corruption.
Egypt is scheduled to host the fourth annual general meeting of the Africa Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities on 14-15 June 2019.