Africa Urged to Focus on Digitization in the Fight Against Corruption

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Addis Ababa,  February 14/2020 (ENA) As part of digital transformation, African countries should focus on digitization in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flow that is looting the enormous wealth of the continent, Former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said.

According to the recent information released by the African Union, the continent is losing about 100 billion USD per year due to corruption.  

In an exclusive interview with ENA, former Prime Minister Hailemariam said technology is becoming a key ally in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flow in the continent.

New technologies now allow people fighting corruption to expose, prevent and even envisage corrupt practices that in the past could be hidden behind a veil of paper-enabled opacity, he noted.

African governments need to focus on new tech innovations against corruption as they are exploring digitization for economic transformation, he stated.

Studies confirm that corruption is one of the biggest development problems in Africa and continues to harm the efforts to bring people out of the quagmire of poverty.

Many African governments and the African Union have declared the fight against corruption as their priority in the move tackle its impact on peoples’ lives.

However, according to the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), more than half of all citizens think corruption is getting worse in their country and that their government is doing a poor job in tackling corruption.

Indicating lack of transparent system as one of the key bottlenecks in the fight against corruption in Africa, Hailemarim said such pervasive challenge demands new solution, like digitization.

He pointed out that digital revolution is changing the rules of corruption equation in making transparency work for accountability.

New technologies can reduce vulnerabilities to human fiddling beyond decreasing the discretion that unscrupulous bureaucrats abuse to extract bribes, for instance in the processing of permits and licenses.

So, he stated that digitization is a fundamental instrument to ensure transparency that would help trace criminal acts and make perpetrators accountable, which African government should put in place.  

Mentioning that Africa needs to quickly address constraints in its trends of doing business environment, which he believe is the other contributing factor to the acts of corruption, he stated.

He added that “this is a very important issue for Africa and specifically for my country Ethiopia to give a paramount emphasis.”

He, however, stated “But only the digitization cannot be the silver bullet for handling lootings and corruption, it is the mindset which matters the most.”

Hailemariam re-emphasized the need for educating young people in terms of value addition and competitiveness rather than looting and finding the short way to be rich.

He also urged African leaders and the business community at large to intensify efforts in the fight against corruption through every possible mechanism including digitization.

Digitization is a crucial stepping stone in hauling anti-corruption systems into the 21st century, which would have African countries to leverage it.