On January 29, 2019, Transparency International (“TI”) published its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (“CPI”) for 2018. This survey ranks perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories according to experts and business people on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The corruption index is used to score a country on how corrupt the government is.
This year CPI paints a gloomy picture of a net decline in the perception of corruption worldwide and a decline in democracy. “More than two-thirds of countries scored below 50 on the 2018 index, and the average was 43”, said TI.
This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) paints a worrying picture for Africa, despite commitments from African leaders at the African Union (AU) declaring 2018 as the African Year of Anti-Corruption with the continent theme for the year 2018: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”. Yet this did not translate into concrete progress noticeable by the TI and an attempt to war against corruption is moving at a snail’s pace in the continent.
According to Delia Ferreira Rubio, who chairs the global civil society group:
“Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.”
Table 1: List of African Nations ranked by the TI for the year 2018 from the Top Scorers to the Bottom Scorers
|African Countries ranked from Top to Bottom||World Ranking out of 180 countries||Score/100%||Comparison of report to 2017 CPI report|
|Seychelles||28||66||Significant improvement in CPI score from 60 to 66 and also improvement in TI ranking from 36th to 28th|
|Botswana||34||61||No improvement in CPI score and ranking|
|Cabo Verde||45||57||Improvement in CPI score from 55 to 57 and also move up the TI ranking from 48th to 45th|
|Rwanda||48||56||Improvement in CPI score from 55 to 56 but no improvement in ranking|
|Namibia||52||53||Improvement in CPI score from 51 to 53 and improvement in ranking|
|Mauritius||56||51||Improvement in CPI score from 50 to 51 but a drop in the TI ranking from 54th to 56th|
|Sao Tome and Principe||64||46||No improvement in CPI score and no change in the TI ranking|
|Senegal||67||45||No improvement in CPI score and drop in ranking from 66th to 67th|
|Morocco||73||43||Significant improvement in CPI score from 40 to 43 and improvement in ranking|
|South Africa||73||43||NO improvement in CPI score and decline in TI ranking from 71th to 73th|
|Tunisia||73||43||Improvement in CPI score from 42 to 42 and improvement in ranking|
|Burkina Faso||78||41||Decline in CPI score from 42 to 41 and drop in TI ranking from 74th to 78th|
|Ghana||78||41||Improvement in CPI score from 40 to 41 and improvement in TI ranking from 81th to 78th|
|Lesotho||78||41||Decline in CPI score from 42 to 41 and drop in TI ranking from 74th to 78th|
|Benin||85||40||Improvement in CPI score from 39 to 40 and no change in TI ranking|
|Swaziland||89||38||Decline in CPI score from 39 to 38 and drop in TI ranking from 85th to 89th|
|Gambia||93||37||Significant improvement in CPI score from 30 to 37 and also move up in TI ranking from 130th to 93th|
|Tanzania||95||36||No improvement in CPI score but moves up the TI ranking from 103th to 95th|
|Algeria||105||35||Improvement in CPI from 33 to 35 and also move up in transparency ranking from 112th to 105th|
|Cote d’Ivoire||105||35||Decline in CPI score from 36 to 35 and drop in TI ranking from 103th to 105th|
|Egypt||105||35||Significant increase in CPI score from 32 to 35 and also move up the TI ranking from 117th to 105th|
|Zambia||105||35||Decline in CPI score from 37 to 35 and drop in TI ranking from 96th to 105th|
|Ethiopia||114||34||Decline in CPI score from 35 to 34 and drop in TI ranking from 107th to 114th|
|Niger||114||34||Improvement in CPI score from 33 to 34 but also a drop in TI ranking from 112th to 114th|
|Liberia||120||32||Improvement in CPI score from 31 to 32 and also move up the TI ranking from 122th to 120th|
|Malawi||120||32||Improvement in CPI score from 31 to 32 and also move up the TI ranking from 122th to 120th|
|Mali||120||32||Improvement in CPI score from 31 to 32 and also move up the TI ranking from 122th to 120th|
|Gabon||124||31||Decline in CPI score from 32 to 31 and also drop in the TI ranking from 117th to 124th|
|Togo||129||30||Decline in CPI score from 32 to 30 and also drop in the TI ranking from 117th to 129th|
|Sierra Leone||129||30||No change in CPI score but moves up the TI ranking from 130th to 129th|
|Guinea||138||28||Improvement in CPI score from 27 to 28 and also move up the TI ranking from 148th to 138th|
|Comoros||144||27||No change in CPI score but moves up the TI ranking from 148th to 144th|
|Kenya||144||27||Decline in CPI score from 28 to 27 and also drop in the TI ranking from 143th to 144th|
|Mauritania||144||27||Decline in CPI score from 28 to 27 and also drop in the TI ranking from 143th to 144th|
|Nigeria||144||27||No change in CPI score but moves up the TI ranking from 148th to 144th|
|Uganda||149||26||No change in CPI score but moves up the TI ranking from 151th to 149th|
|Central African Republic (CAR)||149||26||Significant improvement in CPI score from 23 to 26 and moves up the TI ranking from 156th to 149th|
|Cameroon||152||25||No change in CPI score but moves up the TI ranking from 153th to 152th|
|Madagascar||152||25||Improvement in CPI score from 24 to 25 and also moves up the TI ranking from 155th to 152th|
|Eritrea||157||24||Significant improvement in CPI score from 20 to 24 and moves up the TI ranking from 165th to 157th|
|Mozambique||158||23||Decline in CPI score from 25 to 23 and also drop in the TI ranking from 153th to 158th|
|Zimbabwe||160||22||No change in CPI score but drop in the TI ranking from 157th to 160th|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||161||20||Decline in CPI score from 21 to 20 and TI ranking remain the same for both year|
|Angola||165||19||No change in CPI score but drop in the TI ranking from 167th to 165th|
|Chad||165||19||Decline in CPI score from 20 to 19 but TI ranking remain the same for both years|
|Republic of the Congo||165||19||Decline in CPI score from 21 to 19 and also drop in the TI ranking from 161th to 165th|
|Burundi||170||17||Decline in CPI score from 22 to 17 and also drop in the TI ranking from 157th to 170th|
|Libya||170||17||No change in CPI score but a drop in the TI ranking from 171th to 170th|
|Equatorial Guinea||172||16||Decline in CPI score from 17 to 16 and also drop in the TI ranking from 171th to 172th|
|Guinea-Bissau||172||16||A decline in CPI score from 17 to 16 and also a drop in the TI ranking from 171th to 172th|
|Sudan||172||16||No change in CPI score but moves up the TI ranking from 175th to 172th|
|South Sudan||178||13||Improvement in CPI score from 12 to 13 and moves up the TI ranking from 179th to 178th|
|Somalia||180||10||Improvement in CPI score from 9 to 10 but still the least in the table (180th/180th).|
Corruption and a Crisis for Democracy
Corruption contributes to a crisis of democracy in any part of the world, especially in African nations. Sub-Saharan African countries are the lowest-scoring region on the index, with an average score of just 32.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains a region of stark political and socio-economic contrasts and many long-standing challenges. Though many countries have adopted democratic principles of governance, several are still governed by authoritarian and semi-authoritarian leaders.
Democracy does not consist of only a free and fair election but includes other civil and political rights like freedom of speech, the right to protest, and strong independent institutions.
Many African leaders do not want to be in the news, investigated, or face justice, so democracy is undermined in these countries.
Autocratic regimes, despite democratic elections, civil strife, weak institutions, and unresponsive political systems, have continued to undermine anti-corruption efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. This only means that democracy cannot flourish in this region.
Notwithstanding Sub-Saharan Africa’s overall poor performance, a few countries push back against corruption, with notable progress.
For the second year in a row, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal have seen significant improvement in the CPI. In the last six years, Côte d’Ivoire moved from 27 points in 2013 to 35 points in 2018, while Senegal moved from 36 points in 2012 to 45 points in 2018.
These gains may be attributed to the positive consequences of both countries’ legal, policy, and institutional reforms and the political will in the fight against corruption demonstrated by their respective leaders.
Gambia improved significantly by seven points since last year, while Seychelles and Eritrea improved by six points and four points, respectively.
Political commitment, laws, institutions, and implementation helped control corruption in Gambia and Eritrea.
Also, Seychelles made significant progress in tackling corruption because the National anti-corruption act of 2016 came into force in 2017. The commission recorded three cases of corruption, and out of these, two have been sent to the Attorney-General office to be analysed.
The Transparency Initiative Seychelles, a non-governmental organisation, was also launched in April last year to help fight against corruption and bribery. It is part of the global entity Transparency International.
Several countries, including Burundi, Congo, Mozambique, Liberia, and Ghana, have experienced sharp declines in their CPI scores over the last few years.
They are comparing the CPI score of 2017 and 2018 shows that Burundi, Congo, Mozambique, and Burkina Faso have seen a decline in 2018 ratings.
Mozambique has consistently seen a decline, and over the last six years, the country has dropped 8 points, moving from 31 in 2012 to 23 in 2018.
This is because the country has seen increased abductions and attacks on political analysts and investigative journalists, creating a culture of fear detrimental to fighting corruption.
The country is also home to one of Africa’s biggest corruption scandals. Recently Mozambique faced indictments of several of its former government officials by US officials. The former finance minister and Credit Suisse banker, Manuel Chang, was charged with concealing more than US$2 billion of hidden loans and bribes.
Countries that have not made significant progress in the past year
South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, and Angola have yet to make substantial progress on the table, though it might seem they have moved in ranks.
Corruption has been one of the most significant topics on the agenda for this present administration in Nigeria, and several positive steps have been taken by the administration, including the improvement of the anti-corruption legal and policy framework in areas like public procurement and asset declaration, and the development of a national anti-corruption strategy, among others.
However, these efforts have yet to yield the desired results. 8 Sub-Saharan countries ranked better than South Africa in the TI and that is daunting news for the country through the country scored average in the index.
South Africa has seen a significant improvement from the Zuma administration, and this present administration is taking additional steps to address anti-corruption on a national level, including through the work of the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee.
Also, citizens are engaged on social media to inquire into corruption abuses. Social media has played a significant role in driving public conversation around corruption in South Africa and Kenya.
Angola, on the other hand, has increased by four points since 2015. President Joao Lourenco has been tackling corruption and championing reforms since he took office in 2017. He fired over 60 government officials, including Isabel Dos Santos, the daughter of his predecessor, Eduardo Dos Santos.
Recently, the former president’s son, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, was charged with making a fraudulent US$500 million transaction from Angola’s sovereign wealth fund. The problem of corruption in Angolan goes far beyond the dos Santos family. The current leadership must show consistency in the fight against corruption in Angola.
This year, Nigeria, South Africa, and Senegal are going to the polls to vote in a general election, which will test these countries’ corruption perceptions. However, a free and fair election is just a minute aspect of scoring a country’s CPI.
Differences in Policies between the Top Scorers and the Bottom Scorers
Seychelles scored 66 out of 100 to put it at the top of the region, followed by Botswana and Cabo Verde, with scores of 61 and 57, respectively.
Countries like Seychelles and Botswana, which score higher on the CPI than other countries in the region, have a few attributes in common. Both have relatively well-functioning democratic and governance systems, which help contribute to their scores. However, these countries are the exception rather than the norm in a region where most democratic principles are at risk and corruption is high.
At the very bottom of the index for the seventh year in a row, Somalia scores 10 points, followed by South Sudan (13) to round out the lowest scores in the region.
Many low-performing countries have several factors in common, including few political rights, limited press freedoms, and a weak rule of law. In these countries, laws often need to be enforced, and institutions need to be better resourced with more ability to handle corruption complaints. In addition, internal conflict and unstable governance structures contribute to high rates of corruption.
A lot has happened in many African countries that might have pushed countries upward or downwards, such as the removal of some cabinet members in South Africa and the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria by the president of the country.
However, the African government must wake up and start reforming weak institutions such as the police forces and give the people freedom of speech and association without fear of consequences. Also, media houses should be given access to the operation’s independence without government interference.