In the first two months of 2020, the CEELI Institute, along with partners from the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), visited both East and West Africa. These trips were part of the preliminary phase of the IMPACTS Project, an international anti-corruption project funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Under the IMPACTS project, CEELI and IFES will work with local partners in four countries to analyze each country’s level of compliance with international, regional, and national anti-corruption recommendations; identify key recommendations that are yet to be satisfactorily addressed, and support the implementation of these recommendations.

In East Africa, the IMPACTS project focuses on Ethiopia where in 2018, after 20 plus years of political repression, a reformist government was swept into office. The new government has vowed to tackle many corruption-related offenses of the previous government and has actively opened space for civil society. The IMPACTS team spent several days in Ethiopia, in January, meeting with various civil society, governmental, and academic entities. Immediately apparent was the willingness and desire for reform amongst the groups with which the team met – many of which are for the first time able to actively and productively tackle pressing human rights and anti-corruption issues in Ethiopia. The IMPACTS project is now in the research phase in Ethiopia and continues to engage with potential partners who will be invaluable allies when it comes to implementing technical assistance based on prioritized recommendations coming out of the research phase.

In West Africa, the project focuses on The Gambia. CEELI and IFES visited Banjul, the capital city, in February to meet with government and civil society representatives and gain a better understanding of the anti-corruption landscape in the Gambia, which voted in a new President in 2016 after 22 years of autocratic rule by one leader. The trip was very fruitful, giving the team the opportunity to talk with many stakeholders and get a good sense of the pressing anti-corruption issues in the country, as well as to identify possible project partners from within civil society.

The next steps under the IMPACTS Project will involve securing partnerships in each country and supporting a more in-depth review of the anti-corruption successes, challenges, and remaining actionable areas, as well as bringing partners together to discuss common cross-border corruption issues.