It should come as no surprise that some of the world’s most most politically, economically, and socially unstable countries are also the most corrupt.
Transparency International published a list of the world’s countries and ranked them according to their levels of corruption.
So in Africa here are the top 13 most corrupt countries:
On Jan. 18, President Paul Biya launched an anti-corruption drive, just two weeks after sacking two magistrates accused of bribery–the first such action in 23 years of rule, though it’s had an anti-corruption body in place for eight years. The nation remains a thoroughly closed society with little transparency, though the media is more likely to report on corruption in the past. According to Transparency International, oil revenues no longer go directly into accounts controlled by the president, but into the state budget, but for the first time, oil reserves and production are falling and Biya recognizes he must plan for reduction of oil revenues not increases.
Little has been done to erase the legacy of the military coup that was in power or the violent repression of subsequent attempts to change rulers. Last September, Amnesty International protested the arrest of two leading Niger journalists who’d published details of the skimming of international donor funds.
Africa’s OPEC member continues to siphon large quantities of cash from its oil production into the pockets of senior government officials and for use in sweetheart arms deals, used to attack rebel elements that continue their campaigns of violence and to help the dictator Robert Mugabe remain in power in neighboring Zimbabwe.
10. Republic of Congo Brazzaville
Still in the hands of one of Africa’s many corrupt dictators, in this case Denis Sassou Nguesso, with more opposition at home he has begun paying lip-service to creation of an anti-corruption campaign while he and a number of his lieutenants continue to skim funds, particularly from oil shipments through the port of Pointe-Noire. Some time ago, the government arrested anti-corruption advocate Christian Mounzeo when he returned home to Brazzaville after criticizing publicly in Europe the government’s misuse of oil revenue.
Since the resignation of anti-corruption czar John Githongo, some years ago, corruption has persisted in Kenya, but international monitors now suggest that, “People are much more careful about it, they have to obey due process.” The World Bank has embarked on a $120 million East African Trade and Transport Facilitation Project aimed to improve efficiency of supply chains and curb corruption using detailed audits and reviews. It remains to be seen how effective such projects can be.
Nigeria has bounced off the bottom of the most corrupt nations list due to a determined effort by the past President, Olusegun Obasanjo. The president named an Economic Crimes Bureau, which, under the leadership of a small group of top officials has prosecuted several government officials, forcing them from office, and begun monthly publication of budget figures on the national level and in 33 states and 700 local government authorities. Compared with seven years ago, Transparency International reports, progress is being made.
7. Sierra Leone
While the government has created an “anti-corruption commision” and a Web site declaring Dec. 9 “anti-corruption day,” 95% of all residents said in a poll that, “Corruption is rampant in most government departments.” One of the world’s leading producers of gem-quality diamonds, the horrific toll of traffic in illicit stones won Leonardo di Caprio an Oscar nomination for the film Blood Diamond, set in the country and detailing the outrages of this corrupt and often deadly industry.
6. Cote d’Ivoire
Another African nation where there are many successful agribusinesses, particularly producing pineapples and palm oil, that operate effectively under the general understanding that a certain percentage of their profits go directly into the pockets of the nation’s ruling elite.
5. Equatorial Guinea
One of the world’s smallest oil powers, it is also among the most corrupt. Still, possibly under pressure from the major oil companies that operate there, particularly Exxon Mobil, things have improved a trifle, though the corrupt President Teodoro Obiang Nguema remains in power. Now, though, it’s becoming possible to operate a business on a reasonable basis, provided one accepts that 30% of all funds, including oil profits go straight into the pocket of Nguema. Still, the system of corruption now is more rational and orderly than the previous system that amounted to near-total anarchy.
Chad has dropped down from the list this year as international aid agencies, particularly the World Bank, have sought to come to grips with one of the world’s most piggish uses of philanthropic funds. Proceeds of a Chad- Cameroon oil pipeline, funded in part by the World Bank and operated by an Exxon Mobil-led consortium, were supposed to have been used to help feed the desperately poor people of both nations. Instead, at least $30 million was diverted to buy arms to keep the government of President Idriss Deby in power. The World Bank was deeply embarrassed by the fiasco, halted funding more than a year ago, but reached an accord with Chad last year. According to TI officials, the jury’s still out on how effectively it will be implemented.
3. Democratic Republic Congo/Kinshasa
Copper in Katanga, and in the rest of the country, gold, uranium and especially coltan, a rare mineral that’s in every cell phone chip, still drive the corruption that remains rampant in this African nation. The president is the principal recipient of routine payments by the mining companies who apparently are prepared to play the very lucrative payoff game that remains as endemic now as it was back during the regime of one of Africa’s historically most corrupt leaders, Mobutu Sese-Seko.
The key event was the switch from a Canadian company that dominated oil drilling in Sudan, the No. 3 oil producer in Africa, to a Chinese company that took over the contract after the Canadians found corruption and an outrageous human rights record was too rife to be able to continue functioning. China is now responsible for 90% of all oil production in Sudan, which also controls oil flow down a large pipeline through southern Sudan to the sea. Chinese officials have declined any comment on the human rights situation, and TI officials say they are “not too worried about having to pay off the Khartoum government.”
1. Guinea (Conakry)
Guinea has been in a political crisis state for at least three years. Though the current, corrupt president has been in power for 20 years, strong pressure has been building from the public for a change of regime. A public strike that lasted one month finally ended a month ago. There was outright civil strife, obliging the president to appoint a new prime minister. The most controversial, and corrupt, deals surround the mining sector, particularly aluminum. Among foreign businessmen, the general view, according to the TI survey, was that to do business in Guinea you needed “to pay off the guy at the top.”