AU Anti- Corruption Seminar

“Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid.”  

Kofi Anan, UN Secretary-General Statement On The Adoption By The General Assembly Of The United Nations Convention Against Corruption New York, 31 October 2003

This project was borne out of the need to explain the pervasive poverty in Africa’s mostly patrimonial. Whilst AU Watch recognizes the matrix of reasons that keep Africa poor, we agree with Geraldine Bedell (2009) of The Guardian newspaper who wrote that “amount of aid, debt relief or trade is not going to make a difference until the problems of corruption are solved: “Corruption is problem number one, two and three on that continent.” On the particular issue of corruption, one of the arguments made by AU Watch is that the continuous accretion of state power and authority dramatized under Africa’s confusing and contradicting political systems state was a logical extension of the neo-patrimonial state, where state managers are only interested in mobilizing and controlling resources for personal rather than national resources. Corruption unfortunately has become more entrenched. The thieves have become bolder. A 2002 AU study estimated that corruption cost the continent roughly $150 billion a year. It is feared that in 2016 it could be over $170 billion. Yet in that same period it received $22.5 billion in aid from developed countries. Honestly, step back and repeat slowly $150 billion! Do we really need complex economic and political explanations that why we are wallowing in the mire of poverty? Have we not made our problems worse?

But Africa has been ably assisted by foreign banks and multi-nationals. ‘The Trillion Dollar Scandal Study’ by the campaigning and advocacy group ‘ONE’, says developing countries’ efforts to fight poverty, disease and hunger are being damaged by “a web of corrupt activity” that siphons hundreds of billions of dollars from their economies every year. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, it says, the money recovered would pay for the education of 10 million children a year; cover the cost of 500,000 primary school teachers; provide antiretroviral drugs for more than 11 million people with HIV and Aids, and buy almost 165m vaccines. Quaker-Dukubo (2000: 10), quoting French Africanist scholar, J. F. Bayart, argues that the use of such terminologies as “‘prebendalism’, ‘patrimonial’ or ‘neo-patrimonialism’” does not tell the full story of state corruption and poor governance in Africa, especially in states like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Instead he argues that such states should be described as “’la politique du ventre’ – sheer ‘kleptocracy’ glamorized and elevated as a system of governance.” That partly explains the enduring predatory nature of the African state and its inherent security crisis.

It is useful to reproduce en bloc another important study by Rex A. McKenzie (2016) to understand the pernicious and pervasive nature of corruption in Africa. He wrote: “According to (Kar and Spanjers, 2015, cited in Bond 2016: 23), Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole lost 6.1 percent of GDP annually to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), 2015, (ibid), between 2004 and 2013, IFFs cost South Africa $21 billion per year and $18 billion per year in Nigeria. Africa has a level of illicit capital flows is staggeringly high (Kumar, 2014). According to Bond (2016), the charge that Africa is ‘Resource Cursed’ fits the data well. The African Development Bank (2013) African Economic Outlook estimates $319 billion in illicit outflows between 2001-10, with the most coming from, “Metals, $84bn; Oil, $79bn; Natural gas, $34bn; Minerals, $33bn; Petroleum and coal products, $20bn; Crops, $17bn; Food products, $17bn; Machinery, $17bn; Clothing, $14bn; and Iron & steel, $13bn”. Recently President Buhari of Nigeria announced that the previous Jonathan regime stole $17.5 billion worth of oil between 2011-2014, yet many Lagos, Abuja and many cities in Nigeria suffer from power cuts and according to UNICEF no fewer than 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school.

So, how do we fix the injustice of corruption and poverty in Africa?

In collaboration with YOU, AU Watch’s approach is about understanding and tackling the conditions that cause corruption and invariably poverty in the first place. We start by asking questions and challenging assumptions. What are the root causes of corruption and poverty? What role does Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) play in the poverty dynamic? What can we do to change the power dynamics that keep people poor? These questions inform the five categories into which our work falls:

1. Empowering communities: we use education, media and communication to empower people and communities to have the power to claim their basic human rights, to escape poverty, injustice, and misrule. AU Watch understands that media and communication can have a deep and positive result on the lives of people – especially on the poor and vulnerable. We bring the issues you are concerned about and news you want the AU and AU Member States (AUMS) to respond to, to the farms, markets, schools, living rooms and cafes of Africa. Through our television and radio debate shows, dramas, public service announcements, mobile phone services and face-to-face communication we provide individuals and communities a platform to engage their state managers and question them on issues which they are concerned about. Our television, radio and digital programs directly engage people and the AU in discussions, encourage communication across political, ethnic, religious and other social divides.

2. Mobilization of the masses for social justice: We campaign and mobilize people and organizations in Africa and around the world for change in Africa, and act in solidarity with other groups and organizations fighting corruption, poor governance, injustice, inequality and human rights violations in Africa.

3. Education and information dissemination: To make change happen people need to have knowledge and information. AU Watch has set itself the ambitious target of getting every child in school in the next twenty years. We are now developing curricula for primary, secondary and tertiary levels on knowledge about the AU – courses / curricula which we believe should be taught at civics, history or politics classes in our schools and universities. Is there any justification why our schools are not offering courses on ‘AU Law and Institutions’, or ‘AU History’, but instead our institutions teach ‘UN Law and History’? AU Watch has developed a computerized programme, ‘Classroom AU’, where AUMS can teach thousands of children and people at the same time.

4. Policy, critical thinking, writing and training: Including engaging with thought leaders. We carry out extensive and authoritative research and evaluation in formats accessible to a broad audience. It underpins all that we do. We out independent and rigorous analysis of critical African, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities related to the AU, its institutions, and programs.

5. Delivering practical services: We run and deliver practical programs in health, agriculture, education, science and technology. We deliver services and make change happen. Using systems approach we tackle the reasons why Africa is poor and poorly governed. We work with local partners to reach the poorest and most marginalized people, and call on AUMS to support our initiatives.

AU Watch Five-day Seminar

  1. Through its Chapters, AU Watch intends to put together a series of coordinated, concurrent five-day anti-corruption seminars in Africa, running over a period of one month. AU Watch chapters will organize national seminars, involving the government, key anti-corruption groups, and individuals. The seminars which will be interactive will be live-streamed through Youtube, Facebook, and other social media platforms. The goal will be to have it covered in the daily news bulletins in every country in the region. AU Watch will later organize a regional seminar to discuss the conclusion of the various country seminars. If two or three seminars are running concurrently, there will be times when the seminars will be coalesced into a big giant Skype classroom with contributions from participating chapters.
  1. Corruption presents a variety of unique challenges for both the private and public sector. Anti-Corruption Strategies and Action Plan are numerous in Africa. All African governments including the AU have detailed legislation, action plans and strategies about how to tackle corruption. The AU Advisory Board on Corruption was established as part of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, which entered into force in August 2006. Under article 22(5) of the Convention, the Board is mandated to promote and encourage States Parties to adopt measures and actions to meet the Convention objectives and to follow up the application of those measures. As at 28 August 2014, 36 countries had ratified the Convention and were States Parties to it. However, the level of corruption in the region remains high, which raises the question on the impact of anti-corruption strategies in countering corruption.
  1. One of the general conclusions reached by AU Watch is that anti-corruption policies should fit the political contexts of the countries and should provide practitioners a variety of tools. They should, for example, reflect realistic objectives, involve all stake-holders, contain effective implementation mechanisms and promote political support. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) came into force on 14 December 2005, signaling a pivotal shift in international commitment and cooperation to fighting corruption. This has taken place in a context where governance assessment is increasingly being recognized as an essential feedback mechanism for good governance.
  1. The centrality of assessment for effectively combating corruption is recognized by UNCAC, which requires countries to undertake periodic evaluations of legal and administrative measures put in place to combat corruption in article 5 (3), among other related provisions. But we cannot leave it to governments alone to police themselves. In Africa the state system has failed to address the issue. Many commentators opine that it is the state system that is the problem. Enter CSOs. More and more CSOs are building their capacities to assess governance in general, and corruption specifically.
  1. To do this, they must navigate a crowded field of indices and approaches, and make choices about how to utilize, adapt, or create assessment approaches that best fit their needs. AU Watch aims to promote democratic governance assessments that are anchored in the strategic principles of national ownership, capacity development and harmonization, and which are sensitive to the poor, women and other vulnerable groups, both in process and design. One of the flagship programmes of AU Watch is to publish an annual ‘Regional Corruption Index Report’, and to initiate the Regional Corruption Barometer – which will be the only regional public opinion survey on views and experiences of corruption.


  1. AU Watch five-day ‘Training Seminars’ aim to:
  • Provide participants with an understanding of the theoretical, legal and operational concepts related to corruption as well as practical means to develop effective strategies for dealing with this very complex issue.
  • Ask and answer questions whether the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and the AU Advisory Board on Corruption are steps in the right direction. How the AU and AUMS be assisted to develop effective anti-corruption policies and strategies.
  • Challenge participants in identifying the types and forms of corruption in Africa.
  • Provide the foundations of corruption measurements, and also to challenge participants to think about how to bring these principles to bear on assessment processes. Emphasis will be placed on how to use public opinion surveys and other types of research data.
  • Provide participants with an understanding of the theoretical, legal and operational concepts related to corruption, as well as practical means to develop effective strategies for dealing with this very complex issue.
  • Demonstrate how new technologies, social media and strategic communications can be incorporated into effective anti-corruption strategies.
  • Demonstrate how to monitor implementation of anti-corruption strategies, including monitoring impact of such strategies.

Principal Learning Outcomes

7. By the end of the program, participants will be able to:
(a) Understand the role of the AU and other key partners in combating corruption in Africa.

(b) Understand the many dimensions and various types of corruption that could possibly be found in Africa, and the various methods of measuring such activities.

(c) Assess the methodological, political and operational challenges involved in carrying out corruption assessments. They should be able to appraise different instruments for assessing corruption and adapting them to country needs.

(d) Design various types of indicators for assessing corruption and anti-corruption interventions. They should be able to select appropriate data collection methods.

(e) Understand how to use public opinion surveys and other research data. They should also be able to determine the best approach of measuring corruption that would give a realistic picture to the mind of the reader or listener.

(f) Effectively utilize global composite indicators and original data (both qualitative and quantitative), including monitoring implementation of anti-corruption strategies, including monitoring impact of such strategies.

(g) Assist AU Watch Board and Senior Management Team design indicators that capture the experiences and perspectives of marginalized groups.

(h) Provide advice on the relevance of carrying out a systemic diagnosis of corruption.

(i) Understand how social media and civic empowerment are impacting the fight against corruption.

(j) Provide advice on developing a national index and develop scales for quantifying integrity indicators

8. At the end of this Training Seminar, participants will also be able to develop practical plans and polices necessary to effectively enhance the integrity of their respective organizations and environment. Participants will also be able to assessing how global anti-corruption agreements and conventions can impact local anti-corruption activities.


Use of Media and Communication in Implementing the African Union’s Normative Frameworks

9. Media and communication can inform, connect and empower. They can help people, institutions and even governments bring about critical and lasting changes. AU Watch uses education, mass media and outreach to achieve impact at scale. The interactive seminars will be livestreamed through Youtube, Facebook, and other social media platforms. The goal will be to have participants joining in the conversation at some points in the seminar. There contributions will form part of the conclusions of the seminar. The seminars will be covered in the daily news bulletins in every country in the region.

10. Creative, informative and entertaining media outputs are at the core of our approach. AU Watch chapters will make arrangements with national and local radio and TV stations to carry the story about the seminar. Working in partnership with local media houses AU Watch will produce TV news and programs, radio dramas, radio call-in, magazine shows, public service advertisements, billboards and interactive content for mobile phones. We will do interviews on radio, TV and with magazines about the seminar and on the issue of corruption generally.

11. Advocacy and outreach activities form a key part of our comprehensive anti-corruption communication approach. We provide audio-visual and print materials for use by community groups or outreach workers and work with local community organizations to convene discussion groups, road shows, street theatre and community events. This helps us to reach people who might not ordinarily have access to mass media and facilitate more discussion, deepening our impact and providing vital opportunities for audiences to input into program-making.

Join us at the next Zoom conference. COMING SOON.