Accra, May 27, GNA - The Fourth Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa is underway in Accra.
It is being organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, Ghanas Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office.
The Conference on the theme Coordinating Anti-Corruption Agenda within the Commonwealth, is being attended by 17 Commonwealth African Countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroun, Mozambique, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Botswana.
The five-day conference, which was opened by President John Dramani Mahama, seeks to give the Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies, the unique opportunity to forge some common understanding of the tasks that lie ahead of them as anti-corruption institutions and to share invaluable experiences.
Ms Lauretta Lamptey, CHRAJ Commissioner, in her welcome remarks, said corruption had been recognised as one of the biggest obstacles to development, no matter the definition.
She said its causes and effects had also been sufficiently documented, and various measures have been put in place to fight it, declaring that nevertheless, there are challenges.
She observed that anti-corruption agencies were still challenged to show results and demonstrate that they could significantly reduce or root out persistent corruption.
The Commissioner said: Against this background, it is only proper that we critically examine our strategies and approaches in a search for very effective solutions to the canker of corruption.
The need to re-examine our approaches is further strengthened by the nature of a corruption in a globalised world.
Ms Lamptey said corruption is nebulous, multifaceted and ever-changing, adding that it is no more like it used to be.
She said corruption has the potential to mimic scientific innovations, including information technology, and it is linked to other forms of crimes, particularly organised crime, money laundering, drug trade and trafficking in humans and other cross-border crimes.
She said: In order to prevent and deal with these and other forms of corruption effectively, we do require co-operation and reliable forms of networks, and sharing information through both formal and informal structures as well as sharing information and developing synergies.
I believe that these are fundamental in dealing with present today corruption. We should, therefore, not operate in isolation.
According to the Commissioner, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the Africa Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, provide the foundation for such co-operation.
Ms Lamptey urged governments to strengthen anti-corruption policies and laws, and to enforce mechanisms that reward or provide incentives for good conduct.
She said public procurement has been a source of dissipation of public resources in Africa, stating that it is estimated that annually, between 390 and 400 billion dollars is lost through corrupt public procurement.
She noted that as a result of corrupt practices in public procurement, the rise in the cost of government contracts in Sub-Saharan Africa, constitute about 20 to 30 per cent, adding that corruption occurs in about 70 per cent of public contracts.
Mr Deodat Maharaj, Commonwealth Deputy-Secretary, said corruption is an obstacle to sustained national development, which adversely affects business expansion and job creation, thereby constraining growth.
Mr Edward G. Hoseah, Director, Prevention of Corruption Bureau of Tanzania, said Africa loses about 30 per of gross domestic products through corruption, which makes it the single most challenging problem on the continent.
Dr Roger Koranteng, Governance Adviser of the Commonwealth Secretariat who gave an overview of the programme, said members of the Commonwealth in Africa are doing much better in the fight against corruption than their other counterparts.