14/07/2023: A missed golden opportunity

  • Fri, 14 July 2023

14/07/2023: A missed golden opportunity






14/07/2023: A missed golden opportunity

       

     Gold should be sold to those who know its value, as an African proverb goes. Meanwhile, in Ghana, the government – which is responsible for protecting the country’s natural resources – is alleged to be undervaluing the country’s gold itself.

    Back in December 2020, together with the Ghana Integrity Initiative and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, we asked West Africa’s regional court to weigh in on the Agyapa deal, in which the government of Ghana has been considering selling off the country’s future gold royalties in perpetuity under highly suspicious circumstances.
 


 



               People in Accra marched in protest of economic hardships in June 2022. Photo: Francis Kokoroko/REUTERS


    After more than two years of deliberation, the judges announced their decision on Monday. Disappointingly, the court rejected our plea to intervene. Based on the arguments we’ve heard so far, the court appears to be refusing to act mainly because harm has not yet occurred. This is unfortunate: We should not have to wait for the damage to happen to correct the course.

    The court also considers that we failed to present substantial evidence to demonstrate corruption risks under the government’s proposed deal. Never mind the 64-page report from the special prosecutor, which documented numerous irregularities and warned of risks of illicit financial flows.

    Had the court ruled in civil society’s favour, it would have helped prevent corruption and violations of people’s rights, not just in this specific case. It would have also set an important precedent, allowing communities and organisations to challenge abuse of power in the management of natural resources across West Africa.

Good governance principles of inclusion and participation just lost a foothold on public decisions with respect to Ghana’s natural resource management. The ruling from the ECOWAS Court of Justice is a betrayal of the quest of West Africa’s people to ensure that their governments are accountable to the citizens.

Michael Boadi, Ghana Integrity Initiative

 

    Coincidentally, this past Tuesday was the seventh consecutive African Anti-Corruption Day. This year’s commemoration was special, as it marked the milestone 20th anniversary of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. To date, most member states of the African Union – 48 out of 55 – have ratified the convention, demonstrating a commitment to fighting corruption.

    We can attest that there have been positive changes, as six countries have recorded significant improvements in our Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) since 2012. Despite progress, Sub-Saharan Africa is still the lowest-scoring region in the 2022 CPI.

    High-level corruption remains a significant problem. Efforts to curb illicit financial flows – to which the African continent loses tens of billions of dollars annually – are advancing too slowly. This directly impacts African peoples’ quality of life and disproportionately affects those in marginalised positions.

    Opening decision-making processes to public input will go a long way everywhere – including Ghana, where it is now on policy-makers to heed local communities’ and experts’ serious concerns about the Agyapa deal. After all, governments should not need conventions or judges to tell them that they should be accountable to the people they serve.

    FEATURED


 

                    African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash


African Anti-Corruption Day: Transparency International calls on African Union leaders to act on anti-corruption commitments


    On this year’s African Anti-Corruption Day, our 28 chapters across the continent wrote an open letter calling on leaders to deliver on their anti-corruption commitments. While celebrating progress made over the past few years, Transparency International’s African chapters emphasise the need to ramp up efforts to stop stolen public funds from leaving the continent and ensure corruption-free service delivery.


NEWS

Ghana Agyapa royalties deal: ECOWAS Court of Justice delivers a disappointing ruling, leaving people’s rights at risk


    The Ghana Integrity Initiative, the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition and Transparency International are disappointed that judges saw no need for court action to prevent the violation of the rights of the people of Ghana that are bound to occur should the sale go ahead.


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