The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

Corruption in African Countries

Corruption is a huge problem in many African countries. It is estimated that Africa loses about $148 billion each year to corruption, which is a sizable portion of the continent's GDP. This lost money could have been used to improve infrastructure, provide basic services, and reduce poverty. Corruption also has a negative impact on economic growth and development.

There are many reasons why corruption is so prevalent in African countries. One reason is the lack of effective institutions and governance structures. In many African countries, there is a lack of transparency and accountability, which creates an environment where corruption can flourish. Additionally, weak rule of law and enforcement systems make it difficult to prosecute corrupt officials. Another reason for the high levels of corruption in Africa is the continent's resource endowment. Many African countries are rich in natural resources, such as oil and minerals. These resources often create opportunities for corruption, as they can be used to finance illicit activities or line the pockets of corrupt officials.

One of the ways we can see how corruption is spread across the continent is by utilizing Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index ("CPI"). The CPI measures corruption in different regions and countries of the world using various data sources from reputable institutions like the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, as well as, many corruption surveys and local assessments. Looking at the CPI's 2021 rankings for the continent, unfortunately, the Sub-Saharan region has the lowest average points in the world at 33 out of 100. Among the lowest score in the region, we can find Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, and the most corrupt country in the region South Sudan.

Corruption in South Sudan is such a big problem that it has its own Wikipedia page. Ever since its independence in 2011 (and even before when there was just one Sudan), the country has become, for all intents and purposes, a Kleptocracy where the nation's elite steal anything they can from the nation's coffers. In fact, members of parliament have complained that they have been unable to implement any type of regulations to combat fraud and malfeasance by government officials. The most famous example of this corruption happened in 2012 when a letter by President Salva Kiir was leaked to the press. The letter asked around 75 ministers and officials to return over $4 billion dollars of stolen government money, which led to the kidnapping of a prominent human rights activist that was critical of the government. To make matters worse, that event, now known as the "dura saga" also included another instance where the government awarded contracts totaling around $2.3 billion to build a strategic grain reserve. As you might have expected, only a few grain stores were actually built, and even though not all the contracts were paid, hundreds of millions of dollars were still stolen from the contracts. Another example of the rampant corruption occurred while the country was still in the process of establishing itself and gaining independence and they spent $1.7 billion on road construction, but only around 75 kilometers were built, in 2001 President Kiir demanded a $244 million contract be awarded without the Council of Minister's approval to a private construction firm owned by a close associate of the President.

The high levels of corruption in Africa have a number of negative consequences. They lead to a loss of trust in government and institutions, which can hamper economic growth and development. Additionally, corruption can lead to the misallocation of resources, as corrupt officials may redirect funds meant for public projects into their own pockets. This can result in a deterioration of public services and infrastructure. There are a number of ways to combat corruption in Africa. One way is to strengthen institutions and governance structures. This can be done by increasing transparency and accountability, and by reforming the justice system to make it more effective in prosecuting corrupt officials. Additionally, civil society organizations can play a role in combating corruption by providing oversight and holding government officials accountable.

While corruption is a serious problem in Africa, there are steps that can be taken to combat it. By strengthening institutions and increasing transparency and accountability, African countries can make progress in the fight against this scourge. We can see this in the CPI's 2021 report which shows that after implementing stronger laws and regulations to combat corruption, countries like Seychelles, Senegal, and Ethiopia have made significant improvements in managing their corruption levels. If you have information about corruption in South Asia, please reach out to us. We can help protect you and your identity while ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Together we can make a difference.