The Sum of its Parts: Coordinating Brazil’s Fight Against Corruption, 2003–2016

Gordon LaForge
Focus Area(s)
Core Challenge
Country of Reform

In 2003, reform-minded civil servants saw an opening to combat pervasive corruption within the government of Brazil. A new president who had promised to end political graft had just come into office. The question was how to secure the right legal instruments, overcome lack of capacity, and create the coordination needed to detect, prosecute, and sanction wrongdoers. The reformers organized an informal, whole-government network to combat money laundering and corruption. They identified shared priorities, coordinated interagency policy making, and tracked progress. Leaders in the judiciary, executive, and prosecutor’s service drafted enabling legislation, strengthened monitoring, improved information sharing, and built institutional capacity and specialization. Gradually, those efforts bore fruit, and by 2016, authorities were prosecuting the biggest corruption case in the country’s history and had disrupted an entrenched political culture.

Gordon LaForge drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Brazil from December 2016 to February 2017. The British Academy-Department for International Development Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Program funded the development of this case study. Case published February 2017. 

Kwamena Ahwoi

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Country of Reform
Itumeleng Makgetla
Kwamena Ahwoi
Interviewee's Position
Interviewee's Organization
Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development, Ghana
Nationality of Interviewee
Date of Interview
Reform Profile

Kwamena Ahwoi recounts his experiences implementing decentralization policies in Ghana as part of his role in the Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development. He goes into detail about the key challenges he faced, such as translating policy proposals into legislation, transferring functions from historically highly centralized agencies, and setting up political structures for decentralization. He talks about the methods to garner support for the initiatives through a consultative process with the support of a fully researched policy document, and effective use of the mass media, as well as the methods to overcome the challenges faced from those opposing the reform, such as some local chiefs. He details the bargaining that took place at the national level as a result of the policy document and the need for openness in the implementation process to allow people the opportunity to express their concerns. He explains that throughout the entire process there is a need to increase capacity at all levels to ensure the requisite skill set is assigned to its relevant area.  Finally, Ahwoi offers his thoughts on the best ways to deal with the devolution of power in the decentralization process.



At the time of this interview, Kwamena Ahwoi was a principal lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. Ahwoi has had an extensive career in the government of Ghana. He started his professional career as a professor of law at the University of Ghana before joining the Rawlings government in 1983.  Jerry Rawlings, Ghana's military leader after a coup d'etat from 1982-1992, became the first president of the Fourth Republic in 1993, serving until 2001. Ahwoi served as secretary for the Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development from 1988 to 1999, and doubled as the minister of foreign affairs from 1997 to 1998. Ahwoi also established the Ministry of Planning Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration before the Provisional National Defense Council lost power in 2001. After leaving office he also worked for the National Democratic Congress as director of research. He earned a law degree from the University of Ghana before going on to continue his studies at Oxford University.

Full Audio File Size
75 MB
Full Audio Title
Kwamena Ahwoi- Full Interview