Note: This op-ed originally appeared in Project Syndicate and was written by John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry.
WASHINGTON, DC – COVID-19 is a ticking time bomb in Africa. Some of the risks are widely documented. Health-care systems are weak and overburdened, with ten African countries reportedly having no ventilators at all. Food supplies are unstable, and have already suffered major disruptions. And over 18 million people are refugees or internally displaced, leaving them especially vulnerable. But another major obstacle to effective COVID-19 responses is being largely overlooked: widespread corruption.
The international community is stepping up to help Africa fight the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund has suspended 25 (mostly African) countries’ debt payments for the next six months. The World Bank Group is making available a package of up to $12 billion in immediate support to assist developing countries in coping with the outbreak. Billions of aid dollars will be allocated to Africa.
Yet, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, up to 25% of global procurement funding is lost to corruption. Such losses are prevalent in many African countries, where senior government officials and their international collaborators have used public policy and resources to enrich themselves…
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