A couple of weeks ago, one regular reader of this blog sent me an e-mail. He had been looking for commentaries about corruption in Africa, and he couldn’t find that many. “Why so?” was his question. And my answer: “You’re right in that I don’t talk much about corruption in my blog. The reason is that I try to focus on the positive aspects.” While corruption is a fact, it’s also a fact that not every country is equally corrupt – although to be precise, I should be talking about individuals in a country.
The non-governmental and Germany-based organization Transparency International published last month the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2016. They have been publishing this index since 1995, in which they rank countries by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. The scale ranges from 0 (extremely corrupt) to 100 (extremely clean or absent of corruption). We focus on the performance of sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, and analyze their relative positions as well as the impact of this index on key economic indicators.
We are pleased to point out that there are 4 SSA countries among the top 50 cleanest nations worldwide: Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius and Rwanda. Not surprisingly, the top 10 performers in the CPI index in SSA also enjoy higher standards of living. For instance, according to the World Economic Outlook Database from the IMF, they average a GDP per capita (in $US) of $3,260 and they are expected to grow at the fastest rates, 4% on average, this 2016 (the IMF does not have the official figure for last year yet).
However, the 2 most perceived as corrupt countries in the world also belong to the sub-Saharan region: South-Sudan and Somalia. The bottom 9 countries — the IMF doesn’t cover Somalia in their database — average a GDP per capita of only $1,208. This is 2.7 times less than the top 10 performers. Further, they are expected to barely grow in 2016, 0.4%.
As the readers might have inferred, corruption perception affects many aspects of society, and it is important for SSA governments to take steps towards greater transparency. Some are taking this seriously: 19 SSA countries increased their index scores. Most remarkable are Sao Tomé and Principe, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde (+4 points). Nevertheless, 20 countries worsened their transparency perceptions last year, notably Lesotho (-5 points), Central African Republic, South Sudan, Djibouti, Mozambique, Ghana and Mauritania (-4 points).
Finally, some good news regarding some of the most populated countries in SSA. Tanzania, Nigeria (+2), Ethiopia, South Africa and Kenya (+1) have also improved their transparency index last year and they combine almost 400 million people.
Nadim Elayan, Research Assistant at IESE Business School, collaborated in this article.