Addressing corruption to promote and attain the SDGs


Corruption is a major threat to the promotion and attainment of the global goals most especially in developing countries.  it weakens political leadership, both public and private institutions. It again increases the perception amongst the citizenry as very pervasive which erodes trust.

Unfortunately, it affects minority and disadvantaged groups through the lack of social inclusion. This encourages and fuels inequality, impedes prosperity for all and affects the environment. Our desire to achieve the 5Ps (People, Prosperity, Planet, Partnership and Peace) will be strongly undermined.

Corruption is one of the greatest constraints on development, it heightens vulnerability and insecurity, undermines the legitimate rights of people, denies the citizenry their basic services and causes major environmental disaster.

According to the World Economic Forum, the annual cost of global corruption is estimated to USD3.6 trillion, that is equivalent to more than 5% of the global GDP, in forms of bribes and stolen money. Whiles at the same time there are statistics presenting that USD16 billion could end world hunger, USD8.5 billion could help us eliminate malaria.

Again, USD26 billion would be an adequate amount for providing basic education for all children and USD1 trillion would be sufficient to extend the global infrastructure worldwide. This is rational reasoning on how the amount of lost money through corruption could contribute to sustainable development.

There is the urgent need to tackle corruption and to implement laws that address it. The significance of corruption is clearly stated in SDG16, it aims at reducing corruption and bribery in all its forms and shapes substantially. Some targets of goal 16 seek to reduce illicit financial flow, promote effective, accountable and transparent institutions, promote diversity and inclusive, active participation and elaborate consultation in decision-making.

SDG16 is a manifestation that countries have realized the importance of anti-corruption, considering the cross-cutting approach in the attainment of the goals. Sectorial reforms require good governance framework and strong anti-corruption institutions.

Corruption is a deep-rooted canker and exposes the vulnerability of our institutions. This has been a major problem for public sector organizations but unfortunately, it is so widespread that it has found its way into the private sector. Procurement has been one major tool used in the administration of corrupt practices. We have witnessed the inflation of projects and overly quoted cost of items been purchased.

However, these acts pose as a negative consequence on the quality of service delivery. Lives have been lost due to corrupt practices either in the health sector, construction of road network just to mention a few. Tendering processes leading to the award of contracts have been characterized by undue advantage given to certain companies over their competitors.

Shockingly, the poor and less privileged are subjected to the payment of bribe before gaining access to basic human rights like clean water, healthcare, education, food, employment, electricity, fair judicial system etc.

A careful look at corruption will point us to the fact that it does not only affect human lives, but it also has an enormous effect on the general economy. It reduces expansion of the economy and kills infant businesses who can ordinarily execute projects more effectively and efficiently but for their inability to pay a bribe. This obviously denies them the opportunity of business expansion where more unemployed youth could gain decent employment.

This will directly affect the quest to promote and attain SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) whiles the attainment of SDG1 (No Poverty), SDG2 (Zero Hunger), almost becomes an impossibility. Again, SDG3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG4 (Quality Education), SDG6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) will be impacted negatively due to this single act of corruption.

Purging ourselves of corruption will require effective legislative reforms, there is the need for institutional framework against corruption which must be underpinned by a vigorous application of the law. The punishment must be punitive to serve as a deterrent to others. A zero-tolerance policy on corruption must be outlined to ensure the eradication of corruption whiles we promote a fair and just environment.

A weak judicial system and rule of law is a setback in the fight against corruption and the socio-economic development agenda. Foreign investors consider a strong legal institution and a stable economic environment the world over before investing in any economy.

Anti-corruption measures must be outlined and promoted, there must be a demonstration of quick justice delivery transparency, accountability, integrity in the administration of justice in the fight against corruption.

One major institution needed in the fight against corruption is the media, they can provide checks and balances on government and the private sector’s involvement in corrupt practices. The media also offer an essential service by informing the public about the positive progress being made and giving support to those who take a stand in the fight against corruption. They can offer their platform for public education and awareness on the effect of corruption.

One significant achievement is the passage and signing into law The Right to Information Act 2019, Act 989. This provides for the right to access of information to the general public. The state has the sole responsibility to respect, promote and protect the freedom of individuals who will demand information for the purpose of publication and exposing corruption practices.

Anti-graft agencies, civil society, NGOs, religious organizations and other interest groups have a unique position to help in the prevention of corruption. This can be manifested through public awareness creation and strengthening stakeholder engagement. Anti-corruption institutions must be seen to exert some level of pressure to ensure political commitment towards the fight against corruption.

Exposing corrupt leaders both in public and private sectors will guarantee accountability from leaders and raise people’s consciousness on what matters to their communities. The youth can demand from their leaders’ specific measures put in place to tackle corruption. More so, communities will know what their resources are used for.

A Specialized Agency of the African Union (AU), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was initiated in 2002 and established in 2003 by the African Union in the framework of the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

APRM is a tool for sharing experiences, reinforcing best practices, identifying deficiencies, and assessing capacity-building needs to foster policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration.

Africa has experienced bad governance and leadership over a long time and undertaking self-monitoring in all aspects of their governance and socio-economic development, especially in the fight against corruption, will help in the fight against corruption on the African continent.

Corruption comes as a halt on national development, denying many people around the world the prosperity, rights, services, employment and opportunities they genuinely merit. The prevalence of corruption is a threat to development.

When corruption is not attended to, it serves as an impediment to the promotion and attainment of sustainable development. The ultimate objective of achieving the SDGs is defeated when corruption succeeds. An entire community, sector, industry or generation can be left unattended to in the development agenda especially in infrastructure, provision of schools, roads, hospitals etc.

Addressing corruption is not only an aim in itself, but also serves as the most effective and efficient way to ensure the promotion and attainment of the sustainable development goal. It will guarantee a meaningful and dignifying life for mankind and again ensure a sustainable environment through social inclusion, economic growth and environmental protection.

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