The Premier made the revelation as he officiated the opening ceremony of the 12th Regional Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa, taking place in Kigali from 3rd to 7th May 2022.
Dr. Ngirente was representing President Paul Kagame at the ceremony that was also attended by the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland.
The meeting brought together heads of anti-corruption agencies, government officials, representatives from international organizations in anti-corruption sectors and diplomats among others.
Themed “Combatting Corruption for Good Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa”, the meeting takes place at a time when Rwanda is making preparations for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled in June 2022.
Premier Ngirente has said that the theme for this conference is very important because it is in line with the Africa’s Agenda 2063, “The Africa we want”, aspiration number 3, which provides for an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
He stated that it clearly illustrates the firm commitment of African leaders to uphold the culture of the rule of law and good governance.
Several reports have indicated that global corruption is now costing around USD 1 trillion annually. This has severe effects on the lives of people as the cost is very high and continues to weaken resilience of communities.
“This has severe effects on the lives of our people. This cost is very high and continues to weaken resilience of our communities,” said Premier Ngirente.
He explained that corruption creates economic distortions and hampers investments.
Dr. Ngirente also observed that investors who deserve a fair and competitive business environment will avoid investing in countries where there is a high level of corruption.
“In Rwanda, the political will to enhance transparency and accountability are key factors to implement a zero-tolerance approach against corruption,” he noted.
Premier Ngirente told participants that the Government of Rwanda adopted the performance contracts system in 2006 to promote accountability and transparency.
“Under this system, every year, Public Servants sign performance contracts with their managers/supervisors or heads of institution. This is done at all levels of administration, from the local district to ministries and embassies,” he said.
“In that spirit of preventing and fighting any form of corruption, the Government of Rwanda aims at using Information and Communication Technology [ICT] for delivering services to our citizens. So far, key government services are currently accessed online,” added Dr. Ngirente.
The Secretary General of Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland has said that corruption has many devastating effects and hinders countries’ journey to achieve sustainable development.
She underscored that fighting corruption requires collaboration and commitment by Commonwealth countries.
"We must develop and work simple mechanisms to recover ill-gotten assets lying in foreign jurisdictions. The collaboration must go beyond the anti-corruption agencies to the anti-money laundering agencies and tax authorities in the commonwealth countries," she said.
"We can win the war against corruption through collaboration cooperation and through a whole of the Commonwealth approach and using transformative technologies," added Scotland.
Pointing out on the severity of corruption, Scotland revealed that Africa loses US$50 billion annually that should be used in development programs.
Technology in fighting corruption
The latest report by Transparency International ranked Rwanda the 52nd country globally in fighting corruption and the 4th least corrupt African country.
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021 indicated that Rwanda scored 53% from 54% of 2020.
Rwanda’s Chief Ombudsman, Madeleine Nirere has said that political will has yielded good results noting that fighting corruption will continue to be given special attention under the bold vision of President of the Republic.
She explained that Rwanda has made great strides and wants to take the lead in global efforts to fight corruption by 2050.
Nirere highlighted that a lot has been achieved considering the extent at which technology was promoted in service delivery and e-procurement.
The Chief Ombudsman stressed that it reduced physical interactions between people seeking services and providers.
Among others, she explained that assets recovery efforts have been also fruitful overtime where Rwanda recovered Rwf6 billion in 2021 with a target to recover 92% of public assets from 82.5% of 2017.
Nirere has also called on the Heads of Anti-corruption Agencies to maintain strong collaboration with national, regional, and international partners, if they are to fulfill their goals of sustainable development.
Despite intensified efforts, the Chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda, Marie Immaculée Ingabire has observed that people continue to forge new tricks to solicit and offer bribes.
“Technology has played a role in reducing corruption but it doesn’t mean it was completely stamped out. For instance, it was apparent that the e-procurement was held in transparency at the onset but the efforts have stepped back. When we try to analyze the situation, we realize that selected bidders get advantaged and given information facilitating them to win. It is no longer necessary to sit together at the office. People can meet anywhere when they know each other. This is the new trick being used,” she said.
Ingabire further disclosed that lack of integrity and difficulties in getting evidences are among rampant challenges hindering efforts to stamp out corruption.
The Association of Anti-Corruption Agencies was established in 2011 to foster collaboration of the Nations.
The annual Regional Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in The Commonwealth Africa in 2019 was held in Kampala, Uganda where Members agreed that the next Regional Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa in 2020 would be hosted by Rwanda in partnership with The Commonwealth Secretariat.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Conferences of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa for 2020 and 2021 took place virtually.
This year’s conference comes to Rwanda following fruitful efforts to fight the pandemic globally.
The Association of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in The Commonwealth Africa is composed of Anti-Corruption Agencies from 18 African countries namely ; Botswana, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.