The FINANCIAL — Majorities in sub-Saharan Africa view corruption as widespread in the government (75%) and businesses (72%) in their countries — two barriers to foreign investment in the resource-rich continent.
However, these perceptions have improved modestly since 2008, when more than four in five African adults perceived corruption as widespread in both the public and private sectors. Perceptions of corruption in sub-Saharan Africa now rate slightly better than in Latin America and the Caribbean, where 77% see government corruption as widespread, and are on par with the average for post-Soviet states (74%), according to Gallup.
Though Nigeria’s embattled economy boasts abundant human and natural resources, more Nigerians say that corruption is widespread in their government (95%) than do residents in any other country in sub-Saharan Africa. President Muhammadu Buhari — elected last year on an anti-corruption platform — has cracked down, but has thus far struggled to reform a system in which corruption is pervasive at nearly every level of society. In Tanzania, which Gallup surveyed before President John Magufuli’s election, nine in 10 (90%) view government corruption as widespread, staking a similarly difficult path for the country’s new leader to fulfill campaign promises.
Rwanda stands apart from other countries in 2015, with fewer than one in 10 (7%) saying corruption is widespread throughout their government. Rwanda’s success in battling corruption is well-documented. In recent years, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International reported Rwanda’s corruption levels as “negligible,” while the country’s “zero tolerance” corruption policy requires all high-ranking officials to declare assets on an annual basis.
With Africa’s business-friendly population and opportunities for market growth, African GDP and foreign direct investment are increasing at a rate significantly higher than the global average. Still, corruption remains a serious impediment to outside investment, raising production costs and increasing uncertainty on future returns. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, corruption in Africa costs the continent $148 billion per year, an amount equivalent to roughly 25% of the continent’s GDP. Efforts to promote job creation in Africa’s rapidly growing private sector need to come in tandem with strong policies promoting transparency and accountability. Increased investment in key African markets requires the kind of stable business environment and transparency that endemic corruption erodes.