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In May 2023 the African Union (AU) announced the launch of the African Anti-Corruption Research Network (AACRN), during a pan-African workshop held in the second week of May in Arusha, Tanzania. The workshop, convened in collaboration with Stellenbosch University and GIZ, aimed to gather key anti-corruption stakeholders to brainstorm on the idea of the establishment of an AACRN, and the group released a statement afterwards with detail on the outcomes expected.

This project falls under the auspices of the AU, and is supported by research institutions and professional associations. The steering committee comprises the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC), Stellenbosch University, Kenya’s Kenyatta University, the Association of African Anti-Corruption Authorities, the Cameroon Anti-Corruption Commission, and the African Association for Public Administration and Management, as well as independent researchers.

The AACRN will provide science-based data to AU states which will inform their anti-corruption initiatives and provide evidence-based information which to incorporate into anti-corruption strategies. Delegates discussed topics such as the importance of research in the fight against corruption, the connection between research and public policy and policy making, and the effective development of an African research agenda.

The research network will also carry out tasks such as mapping the body of research available on the anti-corruption, assess the efficiency and effectiveness of national anti-corruption bodies, and enhance the accessibility of anti-corruption information, educational resources, and research outputs to policy-makers, scholars, the civil society organisations, and the media – this includes information of training for government officials.

Envisaged outcomes:

1. There is a need for research on corruption and anti-corruption to focus on the role of the multilateral institutions in promoting the fight against corruption.

2. The AUABC should consider establishing a research unit that would liaise with key stakeholders and have overall coordination of popularisation of the network’s research outcomes.

3. The need for strong laws and mechanisms to deal with impunity within African Union member states who have ratified the AUCPCC.

4. The challenges of lack of clear definition of corruption and recommends that sState parties to the AUCPCC to consider a possible definition.

5. Proposed that research should focus on assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the national anti-corruption bodies.

6. Conduct a mapping on the body of research available on the anti-corruption field/topic.

7. The need to establish scientific research structures to promote evidence-based advocacy against corruption.

8. The importance of institutionalising research chair on corruption to facilitate coordination, resource mobilisation, advocacy, and networking.

9. The need to enhance accessibility of anti-corruption information, educational resources, and research outputs to policy-makers, scholars, civil society organisations, and the media, including training for government officials.

10. The importance of increasing working alliances and strengthening partnerships between universities, research institutions and the NACAs in translating research into policy and practice.

11. The need to have a systematic approach in fighting corruption that involves tackling cultural values beyond the legal and regulatory frameworks.

12. There is a need to produce comparative research materials at a continental level. This is important in triangulating cases in Africa, and come up with new ideas on areas of research, understand other perceptions, promote interdisciplinary of the areas under consideration, and compromise on areas of investigation.

13. To have a strong youth engagement and representation to ensure sustainability of the intergenerational activities on combating corruption.

14. Recognising the positive trends within the national anti-corruption agencies in conducting various types of research, there is however the need to strengthen research capabilities including financial and human resource areas, as well as establishing research units.

15. Promote participatory/action research to enhanced public awareness, develop a research interface between researchers and community members, and introduce and develop a culture for demand-driven research interventions.

16. The AACRN shall have a defined governance structure, refined objectives with key activities to facilitate the implementation of the research agenda including information dissemination, and the overall coordination network.