Poor countries lose $1trn to corruption every year

Poor countries in the world remain in poverty partly because they lose $1 trillion to corruption every year, notes Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development.  Out of the 23 poorest countries in the world, 19 are located in Africa.

While a new report released by the organisation shows that corruption remains a big problem for the world, the past year showed that people working together can succeed in fighting corruption.

“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption,” notes José Ugaz, Chair, Transparency International.

Some countries have improved their ranking on the Index in recent years, including Senegal, which showed significant increase in scores since 2012.

But Transparency International’s Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Chantal Uwimana does not see much improvement in Africa.

“From Ebola to terrorism, we’ve seen corruption exacerbate crises during 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa,” says Uwimana. “Forty out of the region’s 46 countries show a serious corruption problem and there’s no improvement for continent powerhouses Nigeria and South Africa. If corruption and impunity are to ‘be a thing of the past’ as the African Union stated, governments need to take bold steps to ensure rule of law is the reality for everyone.”

South Africa ranked 10th in Africa and 61st in the world on the 2015 Index, but its score of 44 in 2014 did not change (A country’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of ‘0’ (highly corrupt) to ‘100’ (very clean). Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy has seen several cases of corruption unfold since Muhammadu Buhari became president last May. It ranked 33 in Africa and 136 globally, improving its score to 26 from 27 in 2014. Most of the corruption cases in the West African state is fuelled by petrodollars.

In Angola, another top oil producer in Africa, corruption is rife. According to the Index, the Southern African country is Africa’s fourth most corrupt country after conflict-ridden Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Transparency International pointed out that there is a deep connection between corruption and conflict. In Angola’s case, there may be no open conflict, but the levels of inequality and poverty are devastating.

“In Angola, 70 percent of the population live on US$2 a day or less. One in six children die before the age of five – making it the deadliest place in the world to be a child. More than 150,000 children die each year,” the NGO notes, but quickly added that “not everyone’s suffering,” driving home its point on inequality.

“Dubbed Africa’s youngest billionaire, Isabel dos Santos made her US$3.4 billion fortune from the national diamond and telecommunications business. She’s also the president’s daughter.”

In Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, the situation can easily be connected with widespread corruption. Five of the 10 most corrupt countries also rank among the 10 least peaceful places in the world.

However, Transparency International’s Ugaz asserts that the war against corruption can be won if everyone works together. “To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough,” he says.

Africa’s least corrupt countries:

  • Botswana
  • Cape Verde
  • Seychelles
  • Rwanda
  • Mauritius
  • Namibia
  • Ghana
  • Lesotho
  • Senegal
  • South Africa

Africa’s most corrupt countries:

  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Angola
  • Libya
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Eritrea
  • Zimbabwe
  • Burundi
  • Democratic Republic of Congo