The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has urged African leaders to step up implementation mechanisms to address the lack of transparency in managing general and COVID-19 funds.
The centre made the call in a statement commemorating the 2022 African Union Anti-corruption Day, with the theme, “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of COVID-19 Funds.”
“Corruption and illicit financial flows are twin evils that constrain Africa’s progress and development. Regrettably, the utilisation of the COVID-19 funds has also become a major source of Africa’s corruption conundrum,” it said.
It commended African countries that had signed and ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC), which was adopted in Maputo, Mozambique, on July 11, 2003, and came into force in 2006.
“There is also an urgent need for member states to collectively take steps to implement the recommendations of the Mbeki report on illicit financial flows, which discovered that the African continent suffers an annual loss of over $50 billion, as of 2015, through illicit financial flows (IFFs).
“The figure has since risen to over $80 billion. Therefore, it is pertinent to note that through corruption and mismanagement, some of the COVID-19 funds in Africa may have become a source of illicit financial flows to countries in the North,” it said.
The CDD added that the national and continental transparency initiative and efforts to stem the unbridled illicit financial flows from Africa to the Northern hemisphere had been embroiled in complex international politics.
It noted that the problem of illicit financial flows could not be solved post-haste, stressing that Africa must continue to stand together and push for a world order that discourages resource and trade price manipulation structured to fritter resources from the continent and keep it perpetually undeveloped.
The centre said that the pandemic exacerbated the prevailing challenges of the health sector, raised inflation, caused acute food shortages and elevated conflicts and insecurity.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 funds and resources in many countries are dodged by opacity and misuse, complicating the already bad corruption situation in Africa.
“In Nigeria, for example, life-sustaining resources and materials provided as COVID-19 palliatives for vulnerable citizens were hoarded and misappropriated by PEPs and their collaborators.
“Hence, the incorporation of technology to improve transparency and facilitate measures to counter corruption, track the utilisation of the COVID-19 funds and trace stolen funds from Africa has become urgent and critical.
“This will include the incorporation of e-procurement systems and digitised budgets that will have the knock-on effect of improving citizens’ trust,” the CDD said.