Corruption in Africa: Who is Corrupting Who?

Published on 23rd April 2013

Nigeria is casualty to corruption allegations in the recently released United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, however indicates that the indictment is exaggerated.

It is easy to dismiss Nigeria’s president for taking a defensive approach to corruption allegations. However, it’s imperative that we evaluate “smart corruption” that has led to little islands becoming legal homes of embezzled trillions of dollars from poor countries. African countries are victims to machinations of fraudsters holed up in developed country cities, corporate tax avoidance, opaque corporate offshore banking systems, banking secrecy law, laundering of corrupt money through fake companies and untraceable bank accounts. Al Jazeera’s expose on “How to Rob Africa” is but one of the many stories that reveal why a continent rich in natural resources remain poor.

While the effects of corruption in Africa (such as warloadism, high income disparities, poor service delivery and lopsided priorities) should not be underestimated, it should be acknowledged that corruption is a complex matter whose definition is fluid depending on the players.  It is no secret that foreign countries and companies are complicit in this vice to strike socio-political and economic deals. This is evident in natural resource endowed countries such as Nigeria, DR Congo, Libya and Liberia, among others. African research bodies ought to come up with indices showing the avenues and involvement of both local and foreign players in corruption in Africa in order to provide tools to stem this vice.


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