Keynote Address by His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
Official opening of the Mo Ibrahim Seminar on the State of Governance
in Africa And the Official Launch of the Pay No Bribe Campaign
And the Open Government Consultative Process The Miatta Conference Centre Brookfields, Freetown onThursday 20th February 2014
I am honored to deliver the keynote address to this epoch making seminar on governance in Africa, and to officially launch the “Pay No Bribe Campaign” and the Open Government Partnership Consultative Process; a two separate but interrelated policy outputs of my government. There is no better time to launch these two processes than at a time when our country has commenced implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity, the first five year plan geared towards making this country a middle income country by 2035. And it is also great that we are launching these processes in the presence of, not only our development partners, but also before one of our governance assessors – Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)/the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF). We want you to be witnesses on to our declarations of commitment to transparency, to open governance, to promotion of integrity in public office, and to continuing actions for sustaining the achievements of the people of this great country.
Permit me to re-state a powerful statement delivered by Mo Ibrahim in 2012 in relation to governance in Africa: Over the past ten years, the general trend in governance across Africa has been positive. We have seen a marked decline in conflicts, sustained economic development, and significant gains in Human Development. We are more peaceful, prosperous, healthy and well-educated than at the turn of the millennium. Sierra Leone is a concrete example of these Africa wide growth and development. Our country is better today than yester years; Sierra Leone is safer today with significant improvement in laws and actions for good governance, human rights, participation, decentralization, and provision of socail services. Our economy is among the fastest growing economies in the world; and we are investing in the development of our human resources.
We still face challenges; but our dedication to meeting these challenges is stronger than ever before. And the hosting of this Mo Ibrahim’ State of Governance Seminar in Africa by my government demonstrates our continued commitment to promoting democratic good governance, transparency and accountability.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we applaud the ADB for organizing discussions on its Governance Strategic Framework and Action Plan (the GAPII) as part of its response to Africa’s current challenges. Discovery of new mineral deposits in Africa, expanding mining activities, and increasing revenues require effective public governance and fiscal regimes. The ADB must therefore continue to promote synergies of excellence with member countries to enhance responsiveness, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability in the delivery of public goods and services.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Africa is growing; but for that growth to be reflected in the lives of the ordinary citizen, we must ensure we plug off the leaks in our revenue generation and expenditure streams. To allow greater access to services for the ordinary citizen we must ensure integrity amongst the public agents that deliver public goods and services; to ensure that we govern for the people, we must clean up the channels of service and communication between governments and citizens. Where the channels are clean, the voice of the people is enhanced; where the channels are clean, service delivery is effective; where the channels are clean, our civic, political and economic relationships are dignified, democratic and developmental. It is against this backdrop that my government renews its commitment to zero tolerance on graft through The Pay No Bribe Campaign“. This is neccessary for dignified relationships; this is warranted in a country that aspires to be a middle income nation; this is a sine qua non for success. Request no bribe, pay no bribe, take no bribe. My government commenced this fight by enacting one of the strongest anti-corruption laws in all Africa; we gave independece to the Anti-corrruption to implement its mandate; we allowed the office of the Auditor General to do its work unhindered, enabling it to present its reports in record time. We ensure the most open recording and reporting of government activities ever in the history of this country; parliament went all over the land conducting open hearing on matters raised by the auditors; and my Attorney General is seized of the reports and will take neccessary actions.
We face challenges, but we are committed to ensuring clean channels of communications and services. That was why we enacted the Access to Information Law; that was why we applied to join the Open Government Partnership; that is why we are working on having the Open Government Partnership Action Plan as a key next step towards gaining full membership into the OGP. To ensure a plan that is reflective of a transparent and accountable government, the MCCU/OGI will be embarking on a nationwide consultative process that will engage citizens, public officials, civil society organizations and development partners to put it together. To take this process forward, the consultation process will be driven by a national steering committee that will comprise of the government, the private sector and civil society representatives.
We will not relent. The Pay No Bribe Campaign would primarily ensure that Service Charters for key institutions and agencies nationwide are printed and disseminated so that citizens are aware of services provided with costs and expected service delivery time. Each Service Charter shall have the ACC hotline numbers to report incidences of corruption and administrative decadence/ bottlenecks.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, through support from DFID, we are launching a pilot study to identify key institutions that will be targeted for reporting bribery and, by May this year, we will install a data management system at the ACC manned by an independent service provider mandated to receive reports via phone calls and text messages on incidences of petty bribery and grand corruption. The roles and involvement of civil society in the success of the war on graft through this Campaign is immeasurable; we count on your cooperation; we will protect whistle blowers; we will ensure their confidentiality. This is a fight for everybody; this is a fight for integrity in the offices, in the banks, the markets, the streets, in the classrooms, the courtrooms and the boardrooms.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is now my singular honor to formally open the Mo Ibrahim seminar on the state of governance in Africa and to formally launch the Pay No Bribe Campaign and the Open Government Consultative Process. God bless us all and God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.