Africa: IMF Calls for Accelerated Anti-Corruption Fight During Pandemic in Africa

A female fruit vendor demonstrates against corruption in Ghana (file photo).

Gaborone, Botswana — Botswana is hosting an anti-corruption conference (June 13-14) led by the African Union and the International Monetary Fund. The IMF said the COVID pandemic has underscored the need for good governance.

IMF deputy managing director Antoinette Sayeh said the continent faces increasing challenges in fighting corruption particularly due to the COVID-19 crisis.

"Of course, corruption has long been an issue," Sayeh said. "But today as we face multiple crises at once - the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the ongoing challenges of climate change and the security situation in the Sahel - the need for good governance has only become more urgent."

Sayeh said countries with strong economic institutions respond better to the new challenges and prepare for a resilient recovery.

She said the IMF has stepped up anti-corruption efforts to ensure accountability during the pandemic.

"Countries receiving IMF emergency financing must commit to transparency and accountability safeguards," Sayeh said. "This included publishing COVID-19 related procurement contracts -- including beneficial ownership of companies, conducting and publishing audits and detailed reporting on COVID spending. In cases of severe governance weaknesses, we work with authorities to ensure remedies would be taken."

Africa Union commission department director Djamel Ghrib said there is a need for the continent to utilize technology to fight corruption.

"Corruption however does not seem to be moving and Africa remains the region most affected by this scourge," Ghrib said. "We should all take advantage of the fourth revolution's impact and wave of element of trust that it has brought to our life. The opportunity of digitization to curb corruption is here and we need to take advantage."

Transparency International notes that while technology is now available to help uncover corruption, the lack of a supporting legal framework, among other things, hampers progress.

Botswana's Ministry of Finance secretary for development and budget, Olesitse Masimega says corruption undermines development in most African countries.

"I need to mention the possibility of weak governance and corruption scaring foreign investors and potential business partners that could support economic expansion and modernization, or at worst attracting the wrong kind that would perpetuate the bad outcomes for the economy and society," Masimega said.

Despite commitments made by leaders in Africa in 2018 to fight corruption, sub-Saharan African remains the world's lowest scoring region on the International Transparency Corruption Perception Index.

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