by Lyu Tianran, James Asande and Chen Chen
ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Senior African officials have voiced determination to fight against corruption amid the African Union (AU)'s call for intensified efforts.
Africans and African countries are very conscious about that fight against corruption, Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama told Xinhua Thursday on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council held during the 30th AU Summit.
The summit kicked off Monday at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc under the theme "Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation." The biannual summit will last until Jan. 29.
"We are hoping that this can really be the year in which we can say that we are all united in the fight against corruption on the continent," said Onyeama.
Africa is taking the issues of corruption "very very seriously" because we have identified it as an area where we could "make gains, quick gains," said Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed on the sidelines of the two-day executive council meeting.
"Corruption is basically a global challenge. I'm happy that Africa's courage is enough to take on that issue," she said.
She also called on African countries to strengthen institutions and come together, ensuring that Africa puts in place structures that will respond to the challenge of corruption.
AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat had repeatedly called for efforts to address the scourge of corruption in Africa.
All African nations are concerned with the AU's theme of anti-corruption for 2018, the chairperson reiterated on Thursday at the opening of the executive council meeting.
The AU estimated that every year over 148 billion U.S. dollars, which represent about 25 percent of Africa's average GDP, are drained out of the continent through corrupt activities, said Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), at the executive council meeting.
Many African countries are working toward their goals of achieving middle-income status by the next decade, which are unlikely to be realized unless corruption is aggressively and swiftly addressed, Songwe said.