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Promoting accountability and transparency in Commonwealth Africa

27 May 2014
Blog by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj following the opening of a major anti-corruption conference in Ghana

Deodat Maharaj

Today I opened a major anti-corruption conference in Accra, Ghana, where the President of Ghana, HE President John Mahima, gave the keynote address. One may ask, why is the Commonwealth interested in addressing corruption? Let us have a quick look at the data. Estimates suggest that corruption is equal to more than 5% of global GDP (World Economic Forum) with over US$1 trillion paid in bribes each year (World Bank). Notwithstanding the progress made, the data for Africa is equally worrying. It is estimated that between US$15-$20 billion of ODA is lost to corruption in the region. The figures are staggering. What it really means is that every dollar lost to corruption is a dollar less for health and education.

For us in the Commonwealth, this is an issue that we have to address with all our partners, the Commonwealth way. Consequently, we have brought together the heads of anti-corruption institutions from across Commonwealth Africa to share experiences, discuss their challenges as well as their success stories. We have also brought some of the preeminent experts in the field to Accra.  I consider it an honour to be able to chair the first working session in which Frank Vogel one of the co-founders of Transparency International shared his experience and extraordinary insights.

In the discussions we have had thus far, we spoke about not only the role of government but also the critical importance of civil society and the media. We heard from President Mahama that citizens have a key part to play and that silence is not an option.

We been working with these institutions over the last four years and in supporting the establishment of the first Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre in Botswana, which is playing an important role supporting efforts across Commonwealth Africa.

We in the Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to work with our partners in advancing this issue from a developmental perspective by looking at how we can strengthen not only anti-corruption commissions but other institutions that facilitate accountability and transparency.  We fully support the view that clean business is good business. It is good for growth, it is good for jobs and good for the people of our Commonwealth.