That corruption is widespread on the African continent is hardly newsworthy, but the profound extent and systemic nature of the problem can still be shocking.
As noted by Transparency International, the non-governmental organization leading the global fight against corporate and political corruption, in many African countries law enforcement authorities can be paid off to ignore any crime, however horrific and devastating – it’s simply a matter of price.
The group estimates that nearly 75 million people have paid a bribe in the past year; some of these to escape punishment by the police or courts, but many also forced to pay to get access to the basic services that they desperately need.
In the latest African edition of the Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International partnered with the Afrobarometer, which spoke to 43,143 respondents across 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa between March 2014 and September 2015 to ask them about their experiences and perceptions of corruption in their country.
A majority of Africans perceive corruption to be on the rise and think that their government is failing in its efforts to fight corruption; and many also feel disempowered as regards to taking action against corruption. In Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana citizens are the most negative about the scale of corruption in their country.
However, the results also highlight that there are a small number of countries in the region that are seen as doing quite well in addressing the scourge of corruption – where only a few people have to pay bribes or where citizens feel that they can contribute to stopping corruption. Citizens in Botswana, Lesotho, Senegal and Burkina Faso tend to have the most positive views compared with citizens from other countries in the region.
The clear disparity between a few strong performing countries in regard to anti-corruption and the many weak performers on anti-corruption across the continent is the main finding of the report. This contains both a hopeful message, that addressing corruption is indeed possible, as well as a disappointing one, as most African countries have failed to make headway in stemming the tide of corruption.
Given that corruption is a major hindrance for development and economic growth, and seeing as it weakens people’s trust in government and the accountability of public institutions, this report calls on governments to act against the corruption which exists in their country.
Click here to download the report.