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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 02:32 GMT 03:32 UK
Corruption 'costs Africa billions'
Nairobi street
Bribery and gratifications are a way of life in Africa

Corruption in Africa is costing the continent nearly $150bn a year, according to a new report.

The African regional body, the African Union (AU) has drawn up a convention to stamp out malpractices which the study says are hitting the poorest the hardest.

The report says corruption hits the poorest hardest
Corruption is illegal everywhere in Africa, but everywhere it is woven deep into the fabric of every day life.

From the bottle of whisky slipped under the counter to speed a traveller's way through customs, to the presidents and ex-presidents living way beyond their declared means, it results in an assumption that no business will ever get done without a present changing hands.

The report before this week's meeting of the African Union in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, makes no attempt to excuse these "gratifications" as part of the culture.

It says that corruption is costing Africa more than $148bn dollars a year, increasing the cost of goods by as much as 20%, deterring investment and holding back development.

Most of the cost, it says, falls on the poor.

Common stance

The AU's proposed solution is a convention which would provide countries signing up to it with a blueprint for tackling the problem.

It proposes that all public officials should declare their assets when they take office, that governments should take powers to seize bank documents where necessary, and that those convicted should have their assets confiscated.

Signatories would also have to agree to extradite those charged with corruption.

The proposed convention reflects a growing awareness of the damage Africa's corrupt reputation has done.

The continent's more forward-looking leaders are in the process of trying to build a new partnership with investors and overseas donors, and accountability and transparency are very much part of that deal.

See also:

16 Sep 02 | Business
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