As we work towards the AfCFTA, we must ensure that there is less transboundary corruption within Africa (Vera Songwe)

Nouakchott, 28 June 2018 (ECA) – In a speech to the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), ECA’s Executive Secretary Vera Songwe warned today in Nouakchott (Mauritania) against the impact of corruption on Africa’s development.

“We need to be aware that Africa will not be able to seize the transformation opportunities highlighted by regional and global development frameworks if this problem persists”, Ms Songwe said, explaining that although it is difficult to measure precisely the cost of corruption, recent estimates place it at $1500 to 2000 billion a year, i.e. 2% of the world’s GDP.

Experts fear that corruption could be having even higher costs at the less visible social level and on women: “Corruption in public services also affects the quality of social services. In the poorest countries, half of the people pay bribes to access basic services such as education, health or water,” she regretted. 

In Africa, public expenses, women’s rights, the energy sector and intellectual property rights are among the areas suffering from the most worrying consequences.

“Corruption affects more than 60% of public procurement in #Africa and increases the cost of contracts by 20 to 30%. In a world characterized by limited resources, this is an unfortunate cost for investments that are greatly needed. We cannot afford such losses anymore”, she added.

In addition to corruption within countries, there is also a growing need to take into account corruption between countries and regions. According to an ECA’s report, “Measuring corruption in Africa: the international dimension matters”, there have been at least 1080 cases of transboundary corruption in Africa between 1995 and 2014, 99.5% of which involved non-African companies and were mostly related to fiscal evasion issues.

“As we work towards the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), we must ensure that there is less transboundary corruption within Africa”, Ms Songwe added, hoping that “by the time we get to Agenda2030 and certainly Agenda2063, corruption will no longer be Africa ’s cancer”.

ECA’s Executive Secretary Vera Songwe is currently taking part in the African Union’s 31st Summit in Nouakchott. This event will be taking place on 25 June-2July under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.

On 30 June, Ms Songwe will launch in Nouakchott the #HonestService Public Service Delivery Campaign, which aims to put forward public and service workers who conduct themselves in a fair, honest and upfront manner in their interactions with customers and citizens, to provide an alternative approach to the corruption narrative on Africa.

في الوقت الذي نعمل فيه على إقامة منطقة التبادل الحر القارية الأفريقية، علينا الحد من الرشوة العابرة للحدود (فيرا سونغوي)

Communication Team
Economic Commission for Africa
Office for North Africa
Tel: +212 (0) 537 548 749