Botswana’s Vice-President today launched the Commonwealth’s first regional anti-corruption centre in the capital city Gaborone, in what he described as “a big day – and achievement for Africa and the Commonwealth".
Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe said the Commonwealth Africa Anti-corruption Centre would provide ongoing training for officials from across the continent as well as for officers from local oversight bodies. The centre will also provide accessible support to agencies battling against increasingly sophisticated corruption practices.
The Government of Botswana, in collaboration with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, will provide the secretariat and training facilities, while the Commonwealth has pledged £1 million to fund the centre’s flagship programmes over four years.9
Dr Kedikilwe told an audience of around 200 high commissioners, anti-corruption officials and judges: “For us as a Commonwealth, countries of Africa have a special responsibility to take the fight against corruption to another level; a political discourse that cannot be over-emphasised.”
He added that the launch of the centre had reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s commitment to fight against corruption, thereby promoting long-term sustainable economic growth within member states. “This is one of many shared values that make us all proud members of the Commonwealth.”
At the launch, the Vice-President signed a tripartite agreement between the Government of Botswana, the Association of Anti-corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa and the Commonwealth Secretariat, which was represented by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.
In her address, Ms Masire-Mwamba stressed that corruption degrades hard won development gains by undermining good governance, the rule of law and economic progress.
“Today, I am proud to be presenting, on behalf of the Commonwealth, a tangible tool – forged in Africa – to co-ordinate and strengthen the capacity of our national anti-corruption agencies.
“This is a South-South exchange of ideas and good practice with an overarching goal to contribute to poverty reduction through saving public funds and increasing levels of public sector accountability,” Ms Masire-Mwamba said.
The centre began work immediately, with a week-long training course for the 40 officials who attended the launch. Twelve Commonwealth countries will be participating in the first mentoring scheme to monitor and evaluate a project they have identified.
Dr Roger Koranteng, Governance Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said the centre places the Commonwealth at the forefront of anti-corruption efforts on the continent.
“We have a tangible outcome after 18 months, driven by members of the Association of Anti-corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa and with the support of the Government of Botswana. Members identified clear capacity and skills constraints as well as systems deficiencies. We are now in a position to address these with practical training and guidance from leading experts.”