Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Wednesday for boosting political, legislative and judicial cooperation between African countries to combat corruption as he opened in Sharm El-Sheikh the African Anti-Corruption Forum (AAFC) -- the first anti-corruption forum in the continent.
In his keynote speech to the forum broadcast live from the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh, El-Sisi told representatives of African countries and Arab guests at the forum that corruption is one of the major obstacles to economic growth and achieving sustainable development in the continent, adding that it jeopardises the "legitimate aspirations of the peoples of the African continent towards boosting the ideals of freedom and equality."
"Combating corruption and changing the reality of our continent can only be achieved through concerted efforts, developing common visions, and boosting African coordination mechanisms to curb corruption," El-Sisi told the gathering.
The two-day forum brings together top state officials and representatives from 48 African countries, four Arab nations and nine international organisations.
The Egyptian president holds the rotating presidency of the 55-nation African Union (AU) for 2019.
El-Sisi said that Egypt has made headways in identifying the causes of corruption and developing accurate indexes to measure its levels, as well as in boosting the role of supervisory bodies in promoting transparency to preserve public funds.
Egypt, he said, has been pushing ahead with legislative reforms in this regard.
The Egyptian government has passed legislation necessary to eliminate corruption, set up specialised departments to fight financial and administrative corruption and adopted measures for digital transformation to boost administrative and financial governance and cut red tape, El-Sisi explained to the forum.
Egypt's Administrative Control Authority set up a national committee and a national academy to fight corruption in 2014 and 2017 respectively.
El-Sisi said that Egypt is planning to increase training programmes offered by the academy to supervisory and control authorities in Africa as part of its efforts to back anti-corruption measures in the continent.
In 2017, Egypt signed the African Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption, the main anti-corruption legal framework in the continent.
African officials leading the fight against corruption in their countries made opening statements discussing the challenges facing the continent in its efforts towards strengthening both development and transparency in governance.
The chairman of Egypt's Administrative Control Authority Sherif Saif Eddin said that the forum has five goals; developing anti-corruption mechanisms between African countries, cracking down on organised crime, developing human resources in Africa, boosting the democratisation of technology, and establishing justice and security as cornerstone for development in the continent.
Saif Eddin told the forum that corruption costs African countries billions of dollars every year and is holding back development and stability efforts in the continent, and called for the launch of an African corruption index and enacting firmer legislation to root out corruption.
The chairman of Egypt's Administrative Control Authority Sherif Saif Eddin addressing the forum
President of the Association of African Anti-Corruption Authorities Emmanuel Ollita Ondongo spoke to the audience about the misuse of resources in African countries as well as the conditions contributing to worsening poverty and the political exploitation of youths.
Ondongo said that drugs and arms trafficking are undermining stability in the African continent, calling for innovation in fighting corruption.
President of the Association of African Anti-Corruption Authorities
Meanwhile, Nigeria's Auditor-General Anthony Mkpe Ayine called during his address for reviewing anti-corruption laws in African countries to stop the misuse of legal loopholes.
Ayine also called for creating a unified mechanism to recover stolen assets, as well as launching an initiative to tighten control on state bodies and strengthen internal regulations.
The Auditor General of Nigeria
The forum is part of an initiative launched by President El-Sisi in January 2018 during an African Union summit session on corruption in Addis Ababa. It is designed to create a platform for African countries to exchange information, experiences and best practices to combat corruption.
The forum will address several topics, including the continental and national efforts conducted by African countries in accordance with their international and regional commitments, the relationship between corruption and development, capacity building and human resources, the role of civil society and the private sector, and how to enhance African inter-governmental coordination in combating corruption, state news agency MENA said..
President Sisi with top state officials and African representatives at the forum