Africa in Fact Newsletter #49

"If corruption is a disease, transparency is a central part of its treatment." – Kofi Annan

In our first issue of Africa in Fact last year, we delved into the pervasive issue of Transnational Organised Crime (TOC) in Africa, a global threat that undermines good governance across the continent. In our new issue, we turn our focus to TOC's evil twin: corruption.

 

Corruption, the abuse of power and resources by public servants and elected officials for private gain, is a corrosive force that threatens the very core of the democratic process. It is not just a question of the behaviour of public officials, but also that of companies that are involved in illicit financial flows or which pay bribes for lucrative government contracts or mining concessions.
 
The impact of corruption is far-reaching and affects us all, but it is particularly damaging to the most vulnerable members of society. It threatens sustainable economic development, ethical values, and justice. It destabilises societies and endangers the rule of law. It undermines the institutions and values of our democracy.
 
Two recent empirical studies of corruption and TOC are highlighted in this issue of Africa in Fact. The first is Transparency International's 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which ranks 180 countries and territories around the globe by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. The second is the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime's 2023 Global Crime Index.
 
The CPI scores countries on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), with sub-Saharan Africa maintaining the lowest average score of 33. The Global Crime Index found that 48 African countries lack the political and legal systems to effectively combat organized crime, with corrupt public officials being a major obstacle. Take a look at that last number. In effect, it means that 87% of African countries cannot effectively combat organised crime.
 
These statistics are very concerning, but hardly surprising. The Global Crime Index found that corrupt political elites often collude with criminal groups and use the state agencies that they control to enable and fuel criminality across the continent.

So, what can be done to combat corruption and TOC? Effective collaboration between government leaders and civil society is crucial. This must start with a genuine commitment from African leaders to uphold the rule of law, promote transparency, and strengthen democratic institutions. This means enacting and enforcing anti-corruption laws, ensuring judicial independence, and fostering accountability among public officials.

 
Greater intra-continental collaboration is also essential to tackle transnational crime networks exploiting weak governance structures. Regional initiatives for intelligence-sharing, law enforcement cooperation, and capacity-building will greatly enhance anti-corruption efforts.
 
Fostering a culture of transparency and citizen participation is vital. Civil society organisations, media, and watchdog groups play a crucial role in exposing corruption and holding leaders to account. Governments must protect these institutions to bolster democratic values and prevent the stifling of dissent.
 
The latest issue of AIF looks at corruption from every angle, from its roots to its effects to its remedies, throughout the continent. Don’t miss this insightful read.


Susan Russell
Editor, Africa in Fact

 

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