The Africans We Want - fighting corruption in Africa

The 50-year African Union’s Agenda 2063 seeks to achieve “The Africa We Want” that is integrated, prosperous and peaceful, and also democratic and efficacious in international relations.

But we won’t get this Africa We Want until we have “The Africans We Want” who can create and achieve it.

Targeted social-political processes need to be deployed to generate a critical mass of The Africans We Want in order to quickly reach a tipping point for transformation into The Africa We Want.

Role models will assist to inspire young people grow up to become like them. Such role models should be forthcoming and be very widely known.

There is already a good initial catchment area, but which would need refinement of criteria to avoid ridiculous cases, namely, Nobel laureates and lists of innovators, game-changers and most influential Africans.

Laudable initiatives by the likes of Tony Elumelu to instill entrepreneurship in young people and Chief Obasanjo on leadership training, can also support this process. However, coherent continental and regional systems for achieving “The African We Want” as an evidence-based strategic objective are still lacking.    

We need but must go beyond curriculum reforms, designed to put our youth and mid-career professionals through growth and preparatory phases that build the mettle for the African We Want and equip them with intellectual and social faculties to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution that has earnestly arrived and to be pro-active citizens of the world, without the apathy and sloth that kills life.

We need, but must go beyond, moral exhortations for good character built on courage, motivation, prudence, fair play, moderation, and care for the lot of humankind.

We know that what is ingrained in children up to the ages of seven to 12 through parents and other adults as well as experiences, can be permanent, but that dramatic conversions can happen that overhaul lifestyles, belief systems, and life values. This possibility should continue, but producing healthy individuals fit for purpose.

The one thing very much needed is a coherent philosophy and world outlook that provides a bedrock for the social-political fabric that produces the African We Want - young, middle-aged and old; and a complex adaptive system that provides the auspices. Designing such a system would take a multi-disciplinary approach.

Agenda 2063 is implemented progressively through 10-year Action Plans and flagship projects. A dedicated Action Plan and flagship projects for “The Africans We Want” are very much in order, given that it is impossible to achieve The Africa We Want without them.

The Sustainable Development Goals under the United Nations Agenda 2030 reflect a new pact between humankind and nature, and what humankind has learnt over the millennia as documented in philosophy and science, namely, - that humankind is family through similarity, enlightened self-interest and regional and global interconnectivity; that we care for one another as inherently wired in our DNA and as a matter of right and wrong; and that our planet is a unique phenomenon in the universe and for now is our beautiful and only viable home for most of humankind.

Through effective diplomatic agency, Africa proactively assisted the formulation of the SDGs, based on Agenda 2063. The African missions in New York deserve a pat on the back, for defending humankind.

Threats to Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 include corruption as well as a host of other matters such as climate change, wars and conflict, un-implementation of instruments and programs and inadequate financial and human resources; all of which need priority attention.

Africa has rightly identified corruption as a priority area that deserves urgent and targeted attention - and adopted it as the African theme for this year 2018.

Corruption costs Africa at least US$100 billion a year, and illicit financial flows amount to over US$50 billion a year. In light of resource gaps, such as about US$45 billion annually for infrastructure, tackling corruption is critical.

We know what works in fighting corruption. Botswana and Seychelles which are less corrupt than Spain have some good practices. Cabo Verde, Namibia and Rwanda have undertaken effective reforms and measures that also provide lessons and good practices.

These countries are now less corrupt than Hungary, Greece and Italy.

Critical success factors include, determined political leadership, anti-corruption laws and dedicated institutions at macro and micro levels, dedicated courts or judges, due implementation of laws and policies, compliance with international instruments such as the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative, enforcement of leadership codes and mainstreaming anti-corruption across the public sector.

But actual implementation of such good practices and lessons remains a huge challenge across Africa. However, it is already possible, with some due diligence, to identify persons of integrity who could fittingly hold certain public offices.

Surveys, for instance, by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have established that governments face some of the following constraints in their efforts to implement their obligations and agreed programmes: limited political leadership and ownership, human and financial resource constraints, incoherence and disconnects between relevant government ministries and departments, limited ownership and understanding by relevant stakeholders and users, ad hoc and on-and-off approaches that undermine continuity and momentum required for sustainability, and so on. These factors require attention.

In conclusion then, Africa is not short of visions and knows what it wants, and has a comprehensive list of desiderata. The existential question is: how come we don’t do that which we know we ought to do for our own good?

For instance, we know of the malaise of corruption, yet it is prevalent in our midst. Let there be clear methods, tools and institutions for generating “The African We Want”.

The author is the Director of Trade and Customs at the COMESA Secretariat

Contact: fmangeni@comesa.int.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.
 

 

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