Why Did African Leaders Sideline Corruption in Kigali?


At the African Development Bank’s 49th annual meeting recently held in Kigali, African leaders reportedly circumvented discussing corruption, even as they discussed transparency and accountability.

It was not until former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, raised the issue, that it was brought to the table.

The question here is why. Why would African leaders, at an event held by an institution as highly esteemed as the African Development Bank, avoid addressing corruption? What an opportunity wasted! With so many leaders and bureaucrats present, there could have been no better platform on which to send the message that it is time to take governance to another level; to send the message from the AfDB that corruption will no longer be tolerated.

But the AfDB should have even gone farther than just sending the message. Corruption should have been the theme. Indeed, perhaps the entire event was designed to sideline corruption. As our story mentioned, corruption is seen by many as THE biggest impediment to development. Where does all of Africa’s aid money go? Year after year, billions of dollars in loans and grants later, why are we still underdeveloped?

Corruption does not just have to do with embezzlement; it has to do with nepotism and the protection of functionaries who are underperforming. It is disappointing that the AfDB did not take a stand on this.

Our message to the African Development Bank is this: “Wake up!”

Last year, the AfDB developed what could be described as a business plan for Liberia. We at the Daily Observer, having editorially promoted the view the nations should be run with the efficiency of businesses, were ecstatic. “Finally, A Business Plan for Liberia!” our editorial was headlined. The AfDB had come up with some fantastic ideas. All aid coming into the country should be consolidated into one bank account for efficiency and greater transparency. All development plans such as the Poverty Reduction strategy I & II, the Agenda for Transformation and the AfDB’s own business plan for Liberia would be consolidated.

But the ball would be in Liberia’s court, the bank’s document concluded. We would have to be willing to implement the process and not let it be derailed.

Here again is our message to the AfDB: “Wake up! This is not the time to be diplomatic and politically correct. You absolutely have the leverage with which to yank the chains of corrupt governments. You have a continent to develop, a legacy and a name to uphold.  Name and shame. ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted’, says the book of Proverbs. Wise up! Festus Mogae is absolutely right – demand receipts and results for every DOLLAR and cent you give. Do not keep giving money to non-performing governments.”

Yes, nation-states are the biggest businesses in the world. They have assets and liabilities. They take out loans for development purposes and then waste them. Loans should only be taken out after the return on the investment has been accurately calculated. Strategy! Where are Africa’s MBA’s? Resources must not be given away for a pittance. We should not send our customers to the store house to get their own goods unaccompanied. Of course they will help themselves to more than they paid for! African nations act as if they do not know their own value. It is time we calculate the value of our assets and get top dollar for everything we sell. It is time we invested our profits in education and infrastructural development. Why be a shabby looking billionaire?


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