Ending corruption can boost sustainable development

Feb 17, 2017

Combating illicit financial flows, building up capacities in public administrations and encouraging partnerships with the private sector are some of the initiatives that could be implemented in the fight against corruption.

These were some of the solutions offered by panelists who participated in the seventh Maendeleo Policy Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Corruption as an impediment towards SDGs achievement: What must Africa do?”. The forum offered an opportunity for practitioners on corruption prevention to provide some useful reference points and more understanding of what works and what does not in different countries in Africa.

The forum was organised by the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, with a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Ozonnia Ojielo. Panelists included Ms. Chantal Uwimana of Transparency International and Mr. Ayodele Odusola, UNDP Chief Economist and Head of Strategy and Analysis Team in the Regional Bureau for Africa.

“In order to achieve the SDGs, we need to fight against corruption using the social contracts not only with Governments, but also with various social actors who have different roles and responsibilities,” said Mr. Odusola.

The United Nations (UN) has outlined a roadmap from global partnerships to financing that would make the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality. The roadmap highlights that effective governance structures and institutions as well as strong leadership would boost these efforts. Goal 16 makes the case that fighting corruption is at the heart of delivering a better world.

Effective governance respects the rule of law, it is participatory, accountable, transparent, effective and efficient — the ingredients that ensure systems work in the best interest of those they are meant to benefit. This means it acts as an enabler for growth. Research has also linked the success of developed countries to good governance.

For sub-Saharan Africa, this is important for the post-2015 agenda. It ranks behind other developing regions in terms of the progress it has made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the precursor of the SDGs. This means that it will crucial for the region to fix its governance issues and curb corruption if it is to make the SDGs a reality. Already, the cost of implementing the SDGs runs into the trillions of dollars, and according to the post-2015 agenda financing plan, countries are expected to help raise the needed funds in the face of dwindling aid. This will require transparent economic systems.

Corruption hinders and increases the cost of service delivery. The weak capacity along with the declining aid creates huge funding gaps for implementing the SDGs in Africa. Meanwhile, the report of the African Union High Leve Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa estimates that about USD50 billion leaves Africa annually through illicit means. Today, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there are 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) representing 13% of the world’s population and an estimated 35% of the world’s extreme poor. More than two-thirds of LDCs are located in Sub-Saharan Africa (34).

The capacity of the LDC countries to raise the required funds to achieve the SDGs is limited. They largely depend on aid. Even though the global aid remains high the share to the LDCs has been on the decline.  Recent OECD figures indicate an estimated overall decline in aid to LDCs – from USD 46 billion in 2010 to 38 billion in 2014.

Achieving the SDGs in Africa will definitely require unprecedented investments. The core areas of investment will include (1) health, (2) education, (3) social protection, (4) food security and sustainable agriculture, (5) infrastructure – including (a) energy access and low-carbon energy infrastructure, (b) water and sanitation, (c) transport infrastructure, and (d) telecommunications infrastructure – (6) ecosystem services and biodiversity, (7) data for the SDGs, and (8) emergency response and humanitarian work.

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