Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


CoSP9 Special Event “Joint anti-corruption efforts in Africa: a continental reflection”

  14 December 2021


Question to the UNODC Executive Director: “We have witnessed a significant change in countering corruption globally in the past fifteen years, following the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Since then, 189 States have ratified or acceded to this document, and all but one African country are today party to the Convention. There is also an ever-growing understanding at all levels of society as to the impact of corruption – a crime which in the past was sometimes labelled “victimless”. UNODC’s role in this process has been invaluable, and I’d like to ask you today what you see as some of the key successes and opportunities in tackling corruption in Africa.


Thank you for this posing this important question on Africa’s successes and opportunities in tackling corruption.

Like other regions, Africa has found its potential and prosperity undercut and held back by corruption.

Illicit financial flows and capital flight siphon away almost 89 billion dollars a year from African countries – an amount that is close to four per cent of total GDP.

As a continent of developing nations, the cost of corruption for Africa’s countries and people is a price too high to pay.

The impact on people’s daily lives is wide-ranging and significant.

Education is disrupted when money is diverted away from building and financing schools. Health is compromised when funds for vital medical supplies are stolen and procurement processes are manipulated.

The rule of law is destabilized when security services are afflicted by corruption; and peace and security are undermined by criminal and terrorist groups benefitting from corrupt networks.

Africa has recognized this terrible cost, and governments have taken some crucial steps to combat corruption. The African Union declared 2018 the year of “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.

The UN Convention against Corruption is now near-universal across the continent.

Africa has also developed other relevant anti-corruption treaties and tools, notably the African Union Convention against Corruption, and the AU Asset Recovery Common Position paper.

Together, these mechanisms provide the framework to establish stronger anti-corruption measures.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has worked with African countries to identify gaps and build effective responses based on these instruments.

Through the Review Mechanism of the UNCAC, we are effectively assessing Africa’s institutional and legal capacity to tackle corruption, and identifying the areas where we need to do better, providing us with a road map for tailored technical assistance.

To date, 70 per cent of African countries have completed their reviews of compliance under the first review cycle, and 30 per cent under the second.

In supporting national anti-corruption efforts, we have also been active on the ground, with dedicated staff working closely with government authorities and agencies in all 53 African countries.

Through our Global Programme against Corruption alone, we reached more than 900 practitioners last year.

In line with the Convention’s emphasis on partnerships, we are also cooperating with businesses, civil society, media, and academia, as key role players in the fight against corruption.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To carry these successes forward, we need to capitalize on the opportunities that stand before us.

This year, the international community is taking a stand against corruption, in Africa and everywhere. Tackling corruption has been an important element of the UN agenda during 2021.

The UN adopted the common position on corruption to coordinate and amplify anti-corruption technical assistance across the UN system.

The world came together at the first-ever special session of the UN General Assembly against corruption in June, where a high-level political declaration was adopted.

Now, as we gather in Sharm el Sheikh at the Conference of the States Parties– only the second time that this critical anti-corruption gathering is being held in Africa - we have the opportunity to leverage global momentum to tackle corruption in the continent.

UNODC is supporting Africa to capitalize on this momentum.

Building on our decades-long partnership and engagement, we launched a new Strategic Vision for Africa 2030 earlier this year.

Safeguarding people and institutions from corruption and economic crime are among the pillars of the strategic vision.

Through its implementation, we hope to help Africa in its pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the continent’s own Agenda 2063.

Our success in making a difference against corruption will also be determined by our success in seizing the greatest opportunity of all: the potential of Africa’s young people.

Just ahead of this conference, UNODC held our first-ever Africa anti-corruption hackathon, with over 1,900 young people applying to join the “Coding4Integrity” challenge.

65 teams from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa were ultimately chosen to showcase their skills in providing innovative technology solutions to curb corruption. We will be unveiling the overall “Coding4Integrity” champion tomorrow, at a special event on youth and anti-corruption.

The hackathon demonstrated the energy and enthusiasm we can unleash when we give youth a chance to use their voices and skills to tackle a truly inter-generational issue. We must continue engaging with young people, and enable them to lead us as champions of integrity.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am proud of the successes we have achieved together in Africa. Coming from the continent myself, I have seen how action to improve accountability and transparency can help realize people’s hopes and dreams. It is only by leveraging global momentum, and empowering our young people, that we can build an Africa free from corruption.

Thank you.