John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Corruption: More Than Just an African Reality

by John Campbell
December 7, 2012

Protesters carry a mattress on the second day of a protest against a removal of fuel subsidies in Lagos 10/01/2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)


Transparency International has just issued its Corruption Perceptions Index 2012. The scale ranges from one hundred (“highly clean”) to zero (“highly corrupt.”) One hundred-sixty-seven countries were surveyed this year. The African countries with the highest scores were those that usually do best on such scales: they are small (Botswana, sixty-five; Cape Verde, sixty; Mauritius, fifty-seven.) Among the larger states, Ghana (forty-five) and South Africa (forty-three) did the best, as they usually do in that category. At the bottom were Chad (nineteen), Sudan (thirteen), and Somalia (eight.) Among larger African states, Ethiopia’s score was thirty-three, Kenya’s was twenty-seven, Nigeria’s twenty-seven, and Congo-Kinshasa’s was twenty-one.

World-wide, two-thirds of all countries scored less than fifty out of a one hundred. It is no surprise that the highest scores were Denmark (ninety), Finland (ninety), and New Zealand (ninety). All three are small, highly developed and generally have the best social statistics in the world. The lowest scores are also no surprise: Afghanistan (eight), North Korea (eight) and Somalia (eight).

But in the broad, middle range, those that scored fifty or below included Estonia (sixty-four), Puerto Rico (sixty-three), China (thirty-nine), and India (thirty-six.) Russia’s score was twenty-eight. China and India, of course, have the largest populations in the world, and their combined populations make up more than half of humanity.

The third largest country in the world by population is the United States. Its score was seventy-three; the United Kingdom was seventy-four, Germany, seventy-nine, and France seventy-one. Canada was eighty-four.

The survey measures perceptions of corruption, not actual levels of corruption. With a few exceptions, most of the world’s population perceives corruption in their own country to be a major issue. That is certainly true in Africa where, for example, in South Africa and Nigeria the media constantly bewails official corruption and sees it as a barrier to sustainable economic development.

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