Africa's fight against corruption

NAIROBI, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Africa's anti-graft battle is on.

In West Africa's largest country Nigeria, authorities said last month that it had detected 37,395 ghost workers on the payroll of federal civil service.

The fraud, which had plagued the country's economy for years, was uncovered following an anti-corruption audit on civil servants in the country. The government said the audit, part of President Muhammadu Buhari's anti-corruption campaign, will last till the end of the year.

Like his Nigerian counterpart, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has put anti-graft one of his administration's priorities since taking office last November.

The East African nation announced on April 22 that it will open a new special anti-corruption and economic sabotage court in July to strengthen the government's anti-graft crusade.

On the same day, in neighboring Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an anti-doping law, which he said is a "continuation of the government's efforts to stand against cheating and corruption in sports."

And in South Africa, the government said in February that it was strengthening the legislative framework to clamp down on corruption.

Africa is rising. On the path to development, African countries inevitably face growing pains just like other nations, but corruption has been a thorn in the flesh.

According to figures released by African Development Bank late last year, Africa loses 148 billion U.S. dollars annually due to corruption.

In Nigeria, the country's Information Minister Lai Mohammed said in January that at least the sum of 6.72 billion U.S. dollars, more than a quarter of the Nigeria's 2015 national budget, was allegedly stolen by the officials who served the country between 2006 and 2013.

Not just economic losses. Corruption also threatens Africa's development. It spoils a country's international image, turning away potential investments and funds that would have been spent on improving the country's basic services like health, education and infrastructure.

Namibian finance minister Calle Schlettwein said that corruption levels in Africa remain rampant, especially in conflict-prone countries and those endowed with natural resources when he officially launched the 2016 African Governance Report by UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in April.

The minister added that if not checked, the vice will continue to undermine Africa's achievement of development gains and outcomes.

Given the ongoing efforts to fight graft, there is a lot that needs to be done to effectively curb the scourge in Africa, analysts say.

For an instance, anti-graft law enforcement has proved a challenge. Uganda is said to have fine laws and policies on corruption, but the country's minister charged with fighting corruption Simon Lokodo admitted there are limited capacity of anti-graft institutions and inadequate coordination among these institutions.

There is also room to strengthen international anti-graft cooperation. The problem of corruption in Africa cannot be solved solely by Africans, and corruption in the continent is not exclusively the making of Africans, as noted by Adam Elhiraika, Director for Macroeconomics Policy at ECA.

The 2016 African Governance Report also says that "corruption in Africa has a significant international dimension." It calls on African countries and international stakeholders to collaborate to tackle corruption.
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