The businessman and philanthropist said corruption is a “global cancer” not restricted to Africa.
Work to end corruption in Europe before criticising Africa, says Mo Ibrahim
The founder of telecoms company Celtel appeared at the One Young World summit in The Hague to tell delegates about his philanthropic efforts to foster good governance in his home continent through his foundation.
When asked about corruption in Africa, the Sudanese businessman took issue with the idea that the continent is the only place suffering with corrupt officials.
“Corruption is a global cancer,” he said. “Africa did not corner the market in corruption.
“Corruption is like adultery. It takes two people to commit it and we only blame one. For every corrupt leader, there are a dozen corrupt business people.”
Mr Ibrahim maintained many of the people who escaped blame for corruption were European or American. “So you don't have any corrupt business people in Europe,” he said. “So who corrupts those African leaders who you say are corrupt? Do they corrupt themselves?”
“There is a lot of nonsense about this issue and so governance and transparency applies to all sides”
This is not to say Africa doesn’t have work to do, but Mr Ibrahim said everyone must be held accountable for corruption to be stamped out.
On China’s burgeoning role in Africa, Mr Ibrahim said he hoped “China starts from where the West ended, not where the West began,” saying more transparency was needed on deals swapping minerals and goods for infrastructure on the continent.
Mr Ibrahim’s foundation works to end bad governance and promote democracy with initiatives such as the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The prize awards $5million over ten years and $200,000 per year for life thereafter to leaders who not only demonstrate exceptional leadership, but were also democratically elected and left office when their term ended.
Since the award was created in 2007, only five people have received it. Last year the prize was awarded to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia for her role in leading Liberia’s recovery from a prolonged civil war.
The foundation is also working to keep leaders of African states accountable by collecting data on the provision of political, social and economic services to their citizens and sponsoring thousands of student scholarships at institutions around the world.