The International Conference Commemorating the Second African Union (AU) Anti- Corruption Year is slated to hold in Abuja from July 10 – 14 this year, against the backdrop that the rising twin evil of bribe taking and illicit outflows are detrimental to the development of the Continent. Expected to bring together international and continental anti-corruption
The International Conference Commemorating the Second African Union (AU) Anti- Corruption Year is slated to hold in Abuja from July 10 – 14 this year, against the backdrop that the rising twin evil of bribe taking and illicit outflows are detrimental to the development of the Continent.
Expected to bring together international and continental anti-corruption policy makers, scholars/researchers, the private sector, clerics and practitioners of diverse religious traditions and spiritualties, the conference will interrogate how and to what extent different stakeholders can engage in processes of economic, social and political transformation to eliminate poverty, inequity and corruption.
With the theme Corruption: Wealth, Power, Religion And Democracy, the conference in being jointly hosted by the Centre For Democracy And Development (CDD), Abuja, the PanAfrican Strategic And Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG), Lagos, the University Of Stellenbosch, South Africa and the AU Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, Arusha, Tanzania.
In Transparency International’s (TI, 2012) Corruption Perception Index, Africa remains the most corrupt region in the world with corruption, rent seeking and public financial malfeasance playing a major role in hindering sustainable growth. Similarly, a 2013 study by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Financial Integrity showed that the continent lost between USD 1.2-1.4 trillion in illicit financial outflows over the period 1980-2009.
Real illicit outflows from Africa increased from USD 42.9 billion in 1980 to USD 74.2 billion in 2009. The study showed that illicit financial outflows in the period varied by region with Central Africa, North Africa and Southern Africa accounting for 37 percent, 31 percent and 27 percent of cummulative outflows.
The AfDB African Economic & Financial Brief, says, “It is widely accepted that the quality of institutions and governance are crucial determinants of a country’s economic performance. Corrupt practices distort markets and stifle economic growth and sustainable development including robbing countries of critically needed resources. Overall, corruption reduces efficiency and increases inequality.”
Estimates show that the cost of corruption amounts to more than 5 percent of global GDP (USD 2.6 trillion) with more than USD 1 trillion paid in bribes each year. The overall effect of corruption on the likelihood of FDI taking place is negative. For instance, a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) study has shown that investment in corrupt countries is almost 5 percent less than in countries that are relatively corruption-free.
“Correspondingly, the World Economic Forum estimates that corruption increases the cost of doing business by up to 10 percent, on average. Thus, it imposes a significant negative impact on a country’s capital productivity.”
“While the extent and cost of corruption differ across countries, the brunt of its effect is more pronounced in Africa. Although there have been significant improvements in governance in some African countries during the past decade, most African countries have not made significant headway in reforming their governance systems into tools of wealth creation and economic growth.”
According to the organisers, “Public commentators criticize politicians, entrepreneurs, clerics and the state itself for the lack of public probity and accountability, exemplified by corruption and impunity. The enigmas of public transparency and probity however can hardly be limited to public governance.”
“Therefore, there is also the need to explore how religious and business sectors interact with politicians in Africa to uphold transparency, accountability and probity in the quest for equitable economic and social-political transformation to eliminate poverty on our continent.”
They therefore contend that “All the sectors grapple with similar issues regarding leadership, good governance, probity and integrity. Leadership to enhance prosperity for the citizenry, peaceful co-existence, moral regeneration and accountability is needed in public and religious sectors.”
The conference, which will commemorate the inaugural anti-corruption year of the AU in 2018, by interrogating how probity of all stakeholders can build mechanisms to eliminate inequity and poverty in Africa will address the following questions:
How do various hierarchical/decentralized political, business, social and religious polities (i.e. structures of governance) deal with issues of probity, equity and sustainable development?
What values do religions/different spiritualties evince to improve corporate governance and ensure improved ethics and probity in systems of governance in the public, private and religious sectors?
How should these polity structures respond to critique, and identify with national/international policies aimed at disciplined management and equitable distribution of public resources, and the establishment of a viable culture of financial probity?
Which various models condition leadership and followership, and how have these been influenced by political probity, and by national political economy, western electoral financing (campaign and management) systems and technology?
Are liberal or conservative forms of politics and religiosity compatible with developing democracy, governance and ethical cultures?
How and to what extent should religious values and insights be the moral guide in the public and private spheres?
How do we engage prayers and rituals to impact on national polities to maximize probity and integrity at personal, institutional and national levels?
Do women and the youth in particular provide hope for the present and future?
The conference will focus on the following sub-themes:
-Politico-economy, private sector, religious polity and accountability
– Clerics (including women), ethics, corruption and transparency
– Religious values, behaviour, probity and accountability
– Public service-ethics, socio-cultural values, and social action
– Traditional (indigenous) religious systems’ perspective on governance, probity, poverty and inequality
– Liberation Theology to impact our politics, polity and socio-economic empowerment of the poor
– Security agencies, ethics, corruption and communities
– Religion, spirituality and sustainable development in African communities
-Probity, religious sects/spiritualties, and the agenda for personal and institutional integrity for poverty reduction
– Women, spirituality, probity, integrity, and poverty reduction
– The youth, religiosity, spirituality, probity as foundation for poverty reduction (18-24 years only)
– Faith-based institutions, leadership probity, poverty and inequality
The conference hopes to strike a chord between African public, private, religious and civil society institutions and other stakeholders to build a common mechanism and platform for probity and integrity to eliminate corruption, inequity and poverty.