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Opinions of Monday, 26 July 2021

Columnist: Anthony Obeng Afrane

The culprits

The author, Anthony Obeng Afrane The author, Anthony Obeng Afrane

Africa holds about 30% of the world’s known natural resources, but unfortunately, these abundant resources have very little reflection on the quality of life of its people.

The condition of the average African is in rude health, and it is not getting any better – a whopping majority cannot afford the basic necessities of life.

Though colonialism had a negative impact on the African continent, it is many decades most African countries gained independence, but still have not made any significant inroads as compared to their compatriots in other continents such as Asia, South America, etc.

For instance, Ghana and Malaysia won independence in 1957. Within that period, both countries were at par economically – equally poor, and evenly dependent on the export of raw materials; but the deeper worry is that today, the Per Capita Income of Malaysia is 10 times that of Ghana.

It is, therefore, not enough for anyone to argue that the problems of Africa should be placed on the doorsteps of Colonialism. More is at stake than the effect of colonialism.

It is believed that corruption is Africa’s greatest enemy and that its scourge in post-colonial Africa is depriving the continent of much-needed development. For example, Transparency International reports that 75 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have paid a bribe in the past year. And according to an African Union report, more than a shocking US$148 billion is lost to Africa through corruption every year.

There is so much this amount of money can do to develop Africa annually without donor support. The continent receives “only” about US$25 billion in aid yearly.

By way of illustration, the proposed massive Grand Inga Dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo which has the potential output capacity of 42,000 MW, and is capable of supplying electricity to entire Sub-Saharan Africa will require US$80 billion.

The capacity of the proposed Grand Inga Dam is almost double that of the world’s largest hydroelectric power station, the Three Gorges Dam in China which has a generating capacity of 22,500 MW.

As has been already conveyed in the earlier paragraph, the money needed to complete the Grand Inga Dam is nearly half of what Africa loses through corruption yearly. This is a representative case of what Africa can do with US$148 billion annually. It must be reiterated that we do not need financial support from the developed world to fund projects in Africa.

The question many people ask is that why Africa should toil and moil, and be at so much trouble to pick herself up out of the mud in the midst of abundant wealth?

The author of "The Culprits", Anthony Obeng Afrane believes that this unfortunate situation of Africa can be reversed by dealing with the root cause of the problem, which is corruption. The book adeptly portrays corruption from the grassroots to the highest level. For example, the underhand dealings that go on during party conferences to elect officers at the constituency, regional and national levels in Ghana.

The sad story of how District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives of Local Government in Ghana are compelled to part with huge sums of money before their appointments are confirmed at the various Local Assemblies, and how these officers reap their “investment” in the speed of light by stealing money meant for the wellbeing of the rural poor, is unveiled.

The book also captures the greedy nature of some electorates which compels politicians to pay for votes during national general elections which have led many to believe that corrupt politicians are a reflection of a corrupt society. The story shows how these corrupt politicians get funding from some rapacious businesspeople who become the power brokers when power is won.

And how these unscrupulous entrepreneurs excessively recoup every money they have “invested” in political campaigns and more. The subsequent exploitation of ordinary people by these power brokers through corruption is sufficiently highlighted.

There are more: payments of bribes to acquire basic documents such as Birth Certificate, Driver’s Licence and Passport; deep-seated corruption involving police officers and drivers which has become a culture, making drivers pay bribes to police officers at checkpoints without being asked for it just to have their peace, media practitioners taking bribes to “kill” scandalous corruption stories, etc.

The book reflects my personal experience as a contender of two parliamentary primary elections, a District Chief Executive hopeful, a Deputy General Secretary and General Secretary of a national writers association as well as someone who worked at the Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana.

The book comes to the conclusion that the very victims of the effect of corruption who are burdened with life-long sorrow on the continent of Africa are also the culprits: and until the ordinary people of the continent recognize that the success story of Africa depends on them, the development of the continent could remain a mirage.

This intention of "The Culprits" to sensitize the people of Africa will be instructive and thrilling. And, successfully doing this, will save the victims. Will save the culprits. And will save Africa. This book will be my 13th published title.