African Politics and Policy

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Do the right thing!

The news that did not make the news yesterday is that Africa has a problem with corruption. Transparency international yesterday released the 2016 Corruption Perception Index. The scores were computed for 176 countries, including for 45 African one.

The 2016 Corruption Perception Index paints  a rather troubling picture for Africa. It shows that many African countries are affected by high levels of corruption, that corruption is pervasive, that five of the ten most corrupt countries in the world are in Africa. Four of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa and one in North Africa.

Of course some Sub-Saharan countries have acceptable levels of transparency. Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda, Namibia are among the 50 most transparent countries in the world and they’re all more transparent or less corrupt than advanced industrial economy such as Italy.

But with these few exceptions, Sub-Saharan Africa is not doing well. Corruption is high, is not decreasing and in way too many cases it is actually increasing.

The level of perceived corruption did not change in seven of the forty-five Sub-Saharan African countries (Rwanda, Zambia, Liberia, Togo, Malawi, Uganda, Eritrea) and it increased in 20 of them. In other words, only in 40 per cent of the countries in SSA corruption has decreased, while in the remaining sixty per cent it either remained stable or increased.

Given the high developmental costs that corruption has and has had for the continent, it is clear that governments from SSA should do more and should do better to fight corruption. Reducing corruption is essential for consolidating the progresses that many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have made along the developmental path in the course of the last 15 years. The time to fight corruption in SSA is now. Political elites in the continent should not miss a historic opportunity to do the right thing.

Riccardo Pelizzo

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