Message from the President of EBID on International Anti-Corruption Day (December 9, 2023)
On the day set aside by the United Nations to commemorate the international fight against corruption, a powerful call to action can be found in this year’s theme “Uniting the world against corruption”.
By diverting already scarce resources, corruption hinders direct financing of projects and programmes, while simultaneously raising additional costs that governments and private sector actors find themselves unable to overcome. However, beyond this direct impact, we must also bear in mind the overall disruptive nature of corruption. It undermines already challenged economies and exacerbates poverty, leading to an upsurge in crime, violence and potential for conflict or other forms of instability. In short, corruption is not only bad for business but also negatively impacts our general wellbeing as a society.
Transparency International maintains a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which ranks the nations of the world according to the perceived level of public sector corruption, on a scale ranging from 0 (very corrupt) to 100 (no corruption)”. For 2022, the CPI report stated the [Index] 2022 shows most countries are unable to eliminate corruption”, meaning most countries are unable to attain the ‘100’ corruption score.
Esteemed colleagues, as actors within the development finance ecosystem, with firsthand knowledge of the obstacles that must be overcome to obtain resources for the use of governments and private sector economic operators, we should be concerned with the foregoing statistics. It means that the economic environment in which we find ourselves is plagued by inefficient use of funds leading to ineffective or unsuccessful initiatives.
To curb this growing trend, governments have a duty to actively promote measures aimed at rooting out corruption at all levels, and to ensure that public authorities, businesses, and other development stakeholders act in the collective interest and for the well-being of their people. Yet, at the individual level, we must also adopt a collective mindset that is united in its lack of tolerance for corruption knowing that the effects are widespread and damaging to society as a whole.
The truth of the matter is that the real cost of corruption remains difficult to quantify- because how can we measure the impact of investments and projects that never materialize because of corruption? How do we calculate the level to which it increases risk premiums such that returns on investments are wiped out?
Ladies and gentlemen, we simply cannot afford to ignore corruption. Therefore, I urge all staff members, clients of the Bank and our stakeholders to commit themselves to avoiding anything that adversely affect the efficacy of our operations or make it harder to finance projects for the benefit of the peoples of ECOWAS.
Long live ECOWAS.