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12th Africa anti-corruption conference opens with clarion call for collective action

The 12th edition of the Secretariat’s landmark Regional Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa is currently underway in Kigali to discuss the impacts of corruption on sustainable development and strategies for combating corruption

Heads of anti-corruption agencies from the Commonwealth’s 19 African member states and stakeholders met yesterday in Kigali, Rwanda, for the 12th Regional Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa.

The five-day conference, which is being convened under the theme ‘Combating Corruption for Good Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa’, opened with a clarion call from delegates for the need to strengthen cooperation and collaboration among anti-corruption agencies in Commonwealth Africa to help address the gaps in fighting corruption.

Opening the forum, Rwanda’s Ombudsman, Madeleine Nirere, outlined some of the measures the Government of Rwanda has undertaken towards zero-tolerance against corruption, adding that these measures have been made possible not only because of the political will of the Government but also through the cooperation between national and international institutions in the fight against corruption. “Let us challenge ourselves to use this [conference as an] opportunity [to] not only support Rwanda’s corruption prevention and fighting strategies but also be the basis for continued collaboration between Anti-Corruption Agencies, the private sector, civil society organisations and international communities…Anti-Corruption Agencies are leading institutions to fulfil the goals of sustainable development in partnership with other national, regional and international partners. Indeed, these goals cannot be achieved without a strong collaboration with the above-mentioned stakeholders.”

In her welcoming address, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland, said that tackling corruption must be a priority of the highest order because it undermines the ability of countries to deliver inclusive and sustainable economic growth and social progress.

Underlining the need for international cooperation to stamp out corruption, the Secretary-General said:

“Corruption goes beyond national boundaries and is global in nature. The secrecy in jurisdictions has further made anti-corruption work even more challenging. Co-operation and sharing of information are crucial in the tracking and recovery of assets. We must develop and work on simple mechanisms to recover ill-gotten assets lying in foreign jurisdictions. Collaborations must go beyond the anti-corruption agencies to the anti-money laundering agencies and tax authorities across the Commonwealth. We can win the war against corruption through collaboration, cooperation and through a whole-of-Commonwealth approach which harnesses transformative technologies.”

Secretary-General Scotland added that for anti-corruption efforts to be the best, a Whole-Of-Commonwealth approach can be:

  • Working together
  • Learning from each other
  • And collectively setting the highest possible standards

“I am eternally optimistic that, if we work together, and work well, Commonwealth Africa – and the Commonwealth as a whole – will sweep corruption aside and create the lasting, positive space for sustainable development to thrive, and for people everywhere to flourish,” the Secretary-General concluded.

A keynote address by the President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, delivered by Dr. Edouard Ngirente, the Prime Minister of Rwanda, also echoed the call for collaboration:

“Several reports have indicated that global corruption is now costing around $1 trillion annually. This has severe effects on the lives of our people. This cost is very high and continues to weaken the resilience of our communities…Commonwealth Africa member states can make a difference in this fight against corruption through strengthened cooperation and effective accountability mechanisms.

It is my expectation that this Conference will come up with concrete anti-corruption measures and public sector management practices based on the rule of law, transparency, and accountable governance.

As corruption continues to emerge in more sophisticated forms, we need to come up with innovative ways to prevent and address this evolving crime.”


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