Posted by Racheeda Boukezia
In the footsteps of the successful first anti-corruption training course delivered in November 2020, FAD offered a second edition of its “Fighting Corruption in Sub Saharan Africa” course from March 2-28th 2022.
Since 2018 the IMF has placed greater emphasis on governance and corruption issues both in policy dialogue and in financial program design with increased support to member countries to strengthen their capacities. The IMF’s 2019 Fiscal Monitor stressed the importance of building strong fiscal institutions to address corruption. With a myriad of opportunities for funds to leak in the public sector, understanding the vulnerabilities in the fiscal environment is crucial to design proper reforms and reduce the fiscal impact of mismanagement.
The COVID-19 crisis with its disastrous human toll and unprecedented economic disruption, unfortunately brought corruption issues to the forefront. It provided greater opportunities for mismanagement and embezzlement, often at the detriment of the poorest. The pandemic was also the opportunity for the IMF to stress even more the importance of ensuring appropriate governance, transparency, and accountability.
This week of training emphasized the critical need to tackle corruption to promote growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. It covered all areas of fiscal governance, the rule of law, AML/CFT, governance of extractive industries and natural resources management, and central banking governance. With the development of more sophisticated data on COVID-19 financing, a deeper analysis of the corruption risks associated with emergency financing became possible.
The course introduced three new areas. The first area was the role of digitalization. As the digital transformation of governments is creating the potential to revolutionize public finances and enhancing revenue mobilization, mitigate poverty and inequality, curb corruption, and reduce transaction costs, it also comes with risks of further corruption opportunities that need to be understood and tackled. Another module introduced the reforms required to reinforce the governance of procurement processes, a major source of corrupt practices in many SSA countries. Last, the course included a presentation on the important role of CSOs in combatting corruption.
The course was organized by FAD, in collaboration with the IMF’s Africa Training Institute. About 40 senior government officials, selected from 140 applicants, participated in the course, which was delivered in English, French and Portuguese. 19 SSA countries participated, including representatives of Prime Ministers’ Offices, Ministries of Finance, Revenue Authorities, Supreme Audit Institutions, Finance Inspectorates, and Anti-Corruption Agencies. 13 participants were women and over 40 percent of the countries were fragile states. The course included specialized contributions by 19 IMF staff and short presentations from seven external guest speakers, including from the Natural Resource Governance Institute in West Africa, the Global Fiscal Transparency Initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Deputy Auditor General of Mali, and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI).
The presentations included many examples and case studies of corruption in the SSA region and proposed potential reforms. The course drew attention to the legal instruments, mechanisms, and strategies that can both prevent and prosecute corruption, and the need for a strong rule of law and anti-money laundering policies. It also included several workshops with practical exercises that helped participants to strengthen their skills in anti-corruption policy advice and risk assessment.
Feedback from the participants highlighted the need to strengthen financial oversight bodies, which suffer in the region from serious lack of resources and political interference. A presentation by the Auditor General of Mali and contributions from other supreme audit institutions demonstrated that progress is underway – for example, increased use of real time audit of COVID-19 financing - and needs to be sustained. This topic should be included in the IMF’s anti-corruption program.
Based on the success of the course, next steps could include (i) setting up a community of practice on anti-corruption issues that would provide a forum to share experience on a regular basis and (ii) exploring the option of delivering the workshop in other training centers and regions. The IMF’s Middle East Center for Economics and Finance, the regional training center for Arab countries based in Kuwait, has expressed a strong interest in developing this curriculum for the region.
 Senior Economist, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF.
 Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Congo (DR), Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.
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