“Technology is neither good nor bad. It’s just a tool – a very powerful tool,” said Ulla Tørnæs, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, while speaking on the “Code to Integrity: Digital Avenues to Anti-Corruption” panel during the 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Digital tools are currently being used across the world to help fight corruption and increase transparency. One case study highlighted in the “Code to Integrity” report – an overview of current examples of using digital tools for anti-corruption initiatives that are available to governments – is the refugee camps in Jordan, where thanks to iris-recognition technology, people are able to receive aid without having to pay a bribe. The blockchain-based system has proved itself to be a more efficient, secure and transparent way to transfer funds to those who need it since it was implemented in 2017.
“Building Blocks delivers almost $30,000,00 in cash transfers every month to over 100,000 beneficiaries in Zaatari and Azraq, Jordan,” said Bernhard Kowatsch, head of innovation accelerator for the United Nations World Food Programme.
Another innovative example highlighted in the report is the digitisation of tax collection in Burkina Faso, where taxpayers with a revenue above 50 million CFA (around €76,000) declare and pay 100 percent of their tax obligation online instead of going to the General Directorate for Taxation.
“This is important. This simplifies the life of everybody. Contact between tax officials and payers is finished,” said Hadizatou Rosine Coulibaly Sori, Burkina Faso’s minister of economy, finance and development.
After just a few months of deployment, the platform has already registered more than 4,000 digital declarations.
These are just two examples of how artificial intelligence and automated processes can contribute to anti-corruption efforts. It allows transparency and less opportunity for corrupt practices by eliminating the “middleman.” A number of risks do however exist, including the potential for hacking and surveillance. Despite this, digital tools are expected to continue to play an increasingly crucial role in the fight against corruption in Jordan, Burkina Faso, and other parts of the globe.