Addis Ababa Ethiopia, 30 January 2018- Corruption is undoubtedly the most pressing governance and development challenge that most African countries are confronted with today. Corruption has debilitating and corrosive effects on progress, stability and development of the continent. It impedes economic growth by discouraging foreign investments, creates distortion in resource allocation and competitive markets, increases the cost of doing business, and reduces the net-value of public spending. It also reduces the quality of services and public infrastructure and the volume of tax revenues, and encourages the misappropriation and misallocation of scarce resources. In the political realm, it undermines the rule of law, respect for human rights, accountability and transparency and weakens government institutions. This in turn erodes public legitimacy in government and compromises good governance. The social costs of corruption are also deleterious as it deepens income inequality, poverty and adversely affects good moral values in the society. In general, corruption is a challenge to sustainable economic development, peace and good governance.
It is against this backdrop that the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), meeting at their 30th Ordinary Session today 28th January 2018 at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have resolved to join efforts to speed up the fight against corruption. To that effect, they adopted the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation” as the clarion call for the year 2018. During the opening ceremony of the 30th AU Summit today at the AU Conference Center (Mandela Hall), the different African leaders who took the floor acknowledged the fact that African countries, in particular, have shown a growing commitment in tackling the problem of corruption in the past decade. However they pointed out that more is yet to be done and can be done if strong measures are put in place to curb this societal flaw at all levels. The African leaders in their speeches noted that, many African countries have established national anti-corruption institutions in an effort to tackle the problem. In spite of all these efforts and measures, the spread of corruption has been unrelenting and has remained a major obstacle to the attainment of the continent’s development goals.
The 30th summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, which kicked off in Addis Ababa on 28 January 2018 welcomed and congratulated the newly elected Presidents of Angola, Zimbabwe; Benin; Somalia and Liberia. The opening ceremony of the summit also saw the election of Rwandan President Paul Kagame as the Union’s Chairperson for the year 2018 as well as the launch of the DotAfrica domain name; the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market and the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Continental award for Scientific Excellence 2017, to the laureates, among others. The event took place in the presence of the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, AU Organs and Staff as well as the AU Commissioners, the RECs, the Diplomatic corps, and invited guests.
In his opening remarks, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat said the AU will continue in its efforts to foster a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa and promote the dignity of African people. “Tolerance and reconciliation are required if the African continent is to move forward” he emphasized, saying that these values are major prerequisites for ’Silencing the Guns by 2020’. ”We can no longer stand by at the indescribable cruelty of the violence that belligerents continue to inflict on a population that has suffered far too much for far too long. The time has come to impose sanctions on those impeding peace” he further reiterated” underscored the AUC Chairperson. He underscored the need to speed up the reform of the Union as a tool to enhance integration, which is indispensable for development as well as promote peace and justice in the continent. He also urged the Member States to reinforce the fight against Illicit Financial Flows as step to fighting corruption in the continent. On connecting the African Union to its citizens, Chairperson Moussa Faki stressed that the African Union will establish youth quotas across its institutions, and identify appropriate ways and means to ensure the private sector’s participation. He announced an appointment of a special youth envoy in the near future. (See complete speech of the AUC Chairperson on the AU website: www.au.int ).
H.E. Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations on his part commended the constructive cooperation between the AU and the UN. He announced that an MoU was signed recently between him and the AUC Chairperson to work closely in the issues of peace and security and the implementation of the Africa Agenda 2063. He also highlighted that the UN Agenda 2030 and the African Continental agenda are mutually complementary. The UN Secretary General reiterated the support of the UN to the AU on all the sustainable development goals. (See complete speech of the UNSG on the AU website: www.au.int )
Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) promised to join force with the AU in fighting terrorism in the continent. He also expressed the need to reinforce the cooperation ties between Palestine and Africa. (See complete speech on the AU website: www.au.int )
H.E. Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States thanked the AUC for extending an invitation to him to address the summit. He promised to work closely with the AUC in implementing the development agenda of the continent as well as promote the Afro-Arab cooperation. (See complete speech on the AU website: www.au.int )
Outgoing Chair of the Union, Mr. Alpha Condé, and President of the Republic of Guinea thanked the AU Commission for the support given to him during his mandate. He highlighted some of his achievements during the year 2017. He also informed the Summit that he was able to represent the AU in international fora which led to the appointment of an African at the helm of the WHO among other successful positioning of African candidates in high offices within the continent and abroad. (See complete speech of President Conde on the AU Website: www.au.int )
H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and incoming Chairperson of the African Union launched the African Union Theme of the Year 2018: “Winning The Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path To Africa’s Transformation” while H.E. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Champion of the Theme of the Year 2018 launched the theme of the year.
The meeting of African Heads of State and Government will conclude on Monday 29th January 2018 with the adoption of decisions and declarations to guide the work of the African Union all through the year.
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