Corruption in Africa prevails to overall levels

In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), published last week by the NGO Transparency International, four countries in sub-Saharan Africa are among those with a rate of corruption lower than the global average, while a significant number are crowded in the lowest ranks of the list.

Credit Photo: Heather Thorkelson
Credit Photo: Heather Thorkelson

In 2016 the CPI monitored 176 countries, a procedure that is carried out annually on the basis of expert opinion and assigning a rating ranging from 0, for countries deemed "highly corrupt", to 100, for those "not corrupt at all".

Based on this score, sub-Saharan Africa achieved an overall average of 31, confirming its place as once again the most corrupt region in the world, where most of the population is forced to pay bribes to solve bureaucratic and administrative problems. North Africa is placed third last in the ranking, with an overall score of 38.

The methodology by which the index is drawn up changes every year, so as to give a more reliable cross-section of local realities, which in 2016 saw a general increase in perceived corruption compared to the 2015 ranking.

The global average totals a modest 43 and reveals that the number of countries that have lost points is higher than those who have earned, indicating how corruption has become endemic worldwide. Moreover, no country comes close to 100, the maximum score expected from the index.

The final ranking notes that five of the ten most corrupt countries in the world are in Africa. Somalia, with just ten points, is sadly in the lead as the most corrupt country in the world.

The nation in the Horn of Africa is immediately followed by South Sudan, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan and Guinea Bissau. In 159th position, along with Haiti, we find four African countries: Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad and the Republic of Congo. Some countries, such as Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya, while having improved their scores in the CPI,  still demonstrate evident weaknesses.

The trend of the numerous elections held in 2016 throughout the African continent provides a valid reflection to define corruption trends in the macro-region. For example, in Ghana, which recorded the second worst decline in Transparency International’s latest ranking, last December, the electors expressed their dissatisfaction against the rampant corruption by not re-electing John Dramani Mahama.

The lack of confirmation of the outgoing president had never occurred before in the history of the African country, which demonstrated its discontent by entrusting the government to an opposition figure, Nana Akufo-Addo.

A similar situation is also registered in the Gambia, where for nearly 23 years, the outgoing President Yahya Jammeh has ruled with an iron fist, bringing the economic framework of the small African nation to a state of collapse, especially because of corruption.

On December 1st, the histrionic tyrant was not re-elected. After six weeks of standoff with ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, due to his insistence in not wanting to recognize the election defeat, on 21 January he was forced to leave the country for Equatorial Guinea.

In the survey conducted by the Berlin-based NGO, with regard to Africa, there are not only negative results to report. Among the virtuous sub-Saharan countries stands Botswana, which ranked in 35th place, followed by Cape Verde, Mauritius,  Rwanda and Namibia. While South Africa and Senegal share seventh place among the least corrupt nations in the continent and São Tomé and Principe, well-positioned in 62nd, is among the countries to have gained a high place in the ranking.

It is also important to point out that despite the flood of money that is continuing to corrupt African public servants, something is changing on the continent. In contrast to the evident damage caused by the rampant plague of corruption for the development of countries, throughout Africa committees and anti-corruption initiatives, such as the one carried out with extreme commitment by young Ugandans, are growing stronger.

And don’t  forget the African Union. It it does not effectively address the fight against corruption it cannot promote inclusive growth and sustainable development, the first of the seven African Aspirations of Agenda 2063, the plan launched on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Addis Ababa-based organization, offering a vision of the continent's development for the next fifty years.

To increase its commitment to the deed, the regional organization should strengthen its Advisory Board on Corruption, exerting pressure on the 18 member states that have not yet ratified the African Union Convention on preventing and combating corruption.

@afrofocus

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