Corruption in Africa ranges from high-level political graft on the scale of millions of dollars to low-level bribes to police officers or customs officials. While political graft imposes the largest direct financial cost on a country, petty bribes have a corrosive effect on basic institutions and undermine public trust in the government.
High levels of corruption have resulted in dwindling economic growth and sluggish development and poverty prevalence. Corruption also has a disproportionate impact on the poor and most vulnerable, increasing costs and reducing access to services, including health, education and justice. In a bid to redress these problems, Africa has heavily relied on aid. Unfortunately in many cases, the amount that Africa receives from both Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) falls short of the amount lost through illicit financial flows (IFFs) perpetuated by corruption. For example, African countries received $162bn in 2015, mainly in loans, aid and personal remittances. In the same year, $203bn was taken from the continent, either directly through multinationals repatriating profits and illegally moving money into tax havens, or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Efforts to address corruption require financial resources to establish anti corruption units and implementing relevant pieces of legislation that are related to combating corruption. In fact, since financial resources are indispensible in the fight against corruption, the effectiveness of anti corruption efforts partly hinge on the amount of financial resources available. Worth mentioning though, a number of countries strive for qualitative anti corruption agencies with a real capacity to fight corruption but the problem of underfunding hinders this aspiration.
These are some of AFRODAD’s Recommendations
- Adequate funding for Anti corruption agencies. African governments should allocate more financial resources towards the fight against corruption. There is need to adequately fund anti corruption agencies using domestically mobilised resources which are sustainable and predictable compared to donations and aid. Foreign aid encourages accountability to donors instead of citizens and it further encourages graft while breaking the fundamental relationship between a state and its people.
- Strengthening anti- corruption institutions. Anti corruption agencies and institutions should be strengthened in terms of human resources and knowledge to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption cases. Institutional weakness facilitates corruption, particularly due to the imbalance between a strong executive branch and weak legislature and judiciary.
- Strengthening the legal framework on anti corruption. In order to strengthen anti-corruption management in the country, governments should come with laws that will assist in revealing information on possible corrupt practices. Such include the freedom of information law, a whistle-blower protection act and a law on declaration of assets and liabilities.
- Concerted efforts by various stakeholders. Successful anti-corruption efforts are often led by a ‘coalition of concerned’ politicians and senior government officials, the private sector, and by citizens, communities, and civil society organizations. Addressing corruption will require the concerted attention of governments, businesses, civic society as well as the use of the latest advanced technologies to capture, analyze and share data to prevent, detect, and deter corrupt behaviour.
You can find the full report on “the role of fiscal policies in addressing corruption” here.