Available Balance
Geographies of African corruption and embezzlement of funds

The purpose of this paper is to study the uneven geographies of corruption on the African continent. Corruption is an entrenched part of African political culture. However, the degree and impacts of corruption vary widely across the continent, ranging from failed states such as Somalia to the region’s bright spot Botswana. This paper first defines corruption and discusses its causes and effects. It then delves into the specifics of African corruption, including its causes and effects such as patrimonial political cultures, clientelism and the role of natural resource exports.

The study uses data from Transparency International to assess African corruption empirically and geographically, and links its levels of severity using correlations to gross domestic product per capita, literacy, income inequality and freedom of the media.

The major findings are that while the vast majority of the continent’s one billion people live under very corrupt regimes, the impacts of corruption on economic growth are questionable. Few geographic studies of corruption exit.

The paper’s novelty stems in part from being the first to explore African corruption from a spatial perspective, illustrating its widely varying contexts and consequences.

Corruption is a highly visible aspect of African politics, with a number of high-profile scandals standing out. For example, Mobutu Sese Seko, long-time tyrant of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), amassed a fortune of US$5bn, equal to the country’s entire external debt, before he was ousted in 1997 (Thomas, 2001; Svensson, 2005). The widespread corruption overseen by Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi is seen in the millions of dollars lost in “massive cash subsidies for fictitious exports of gold and diamonds” in the Goldenberg scandal (Vasagar, 2006). Nigeria’s Sani Abacha (Pallister and Capella, 2000) and South Africa’s Jackie Selebi (Schwella, 2013) are also among public officials implicated in major corruption scandals. More recently, opposition to corruption in Africa was manifest in the events of the Arab Spring. Tunisia and Egypt were among the earliest and the most visible of these revolutions (Anderson, 2011), while Occupy Nigeria arose later to protest removal of an oil subsidy that undergirded an uneasy peace between parts of Nigerian society and the corrupt state (Agbedo, 2012). Kofele-Kale (2006, p. 697) summarizes the dismal state of African corruption succinctly:

Corruption is a punishable offense under the laws of nearly every African state, and it is expressly prohibited in several of their constitutions and in various regional and pan-African anti-corruption instruments. In fact, Africa’s leadership is so concerned about the problem of corruption that hardly a day goes by without some government entity criticizing corruption and its cancerous effects on African society. Yet, for all the bombast about eradicating corruption, Africa has made little progress on this front.

Corruption is almost universal across the planet but varies widely in severity, type and consequences. Although corruption is not unique to Africa, African corruption remains pervasive and among the world’s most severe (Lawson, 2009). For example, data from Transparency International (about which more later) indicate that six African countries are rated as “extremely corrupt” (scores under 20) and another 35 are considered “very corrupt” (scores 20-39); only Botswana emerges as a member of the “slightly corrupt” group, and no African country is among the “least corrupt” group which includes most of the economically advanced world. Ninety per cent of Africa’s population – roughly one billion people of 1.2 billion – thus live under very or extremely corrupt governments, a rate that exceeds most of the rest of the world.

Corruption is one of the several factors that have hindered African economic development, a governance issue with a wide variety of deleterious social and political consequences. Unfortunately, geographical analyses of this phenomenon have been highly limited and have been mostly confined to a few case studies of India (Robbins, 2000; Corbridge and Kumar, 2002; Jeffrey, 2002), and a critique of anti-corruption campaigns (Brown and Cloke, 2004). Bracking (2009) offers a rare exception concerning Africa, noting that corruption in Zimbabwe is not an exception to neoliberal rule but an integral part of it. Yet, there are virtually no other works on the spatiality of corruption in Africa.

Although it is arguably the most corrupt continent on the planet, corruption in Africa has been largely neglected by geographers. This paper seeks to fill this void; its aim is to disclose the uneven geography of corruption there and the causes of differences in the level of severity found among its various countries, noting that causes, severity and effects vary across the continent. Its primary focus is on the roles of the “resource curse” and globalization as two predominant forces that have facilitated and constrained corruption, respectively. It opens with an overview of the definitions of corruption, its causes and its consequences. Next, it turns to the specifics of corruption on the African continent, noting the roles played by colonial borders, patrimonial politics, foreign aid and the “resource curse”. The third part briefly summarizes the data used in the empirical analysis; the fourth correlates corruption scores with gross domestic product (GDP) levels and growth, income inequality, literacy, export intensity, reliance on raw materials exports, media freedom and government effectiveness in combatting corruption. The conclusion emphasizes the uneven spatial nature of corruption, its cultural and institutional embeddedness and the uncertain role of anti-corruption campaigns.

In its broadest sense, corruption may be defined as the use of public office and funds for private gains (Bardhan, 1997, 2006). Within this umbrella fall a large number of illicit, illegal and immoral behaviors, including graft, bribes, extortion, embezzlement, inflated payrolls in which the designated payees do not receive funds (“ghost salaries”), over-invoicing, theft of foreign aid, a blind eye toward smuggling, the purchase and sale of legislative votes, nepotistic hiring practices and selling of government contracts, licenses and land concessions, to name but a few. Petty corruption may be practiced on a small scale by few individuals, such as police or customs officials, while grand corruption may be institutionalized as wholesale, well-organized kleptocracies designed to enrich a small elite at the expense of the public. Both types are found in Africa; whereas the former is essentially ubiquitous, the latter varies geographically, depending on several factors such as colonial legacies, the structure of exports and associated revenues and the degree to which international agencies [e.g. the International Monetary Fund (IMF), non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] have intervened in particular states.

Corruption occurs when the expected benefits exceed the costs, and it is thus a form of rent-seeking behavior (Klitgaard, 1988). Benefits are not limited to monetary gains but include acquiring political office, power and prestige. The likelihood of corruption must be measured against the probability of being caught or exposed and the associated penalties. In large part, these reflect the transparency of government actions and the degree of administrative oversight and accountability involved.

Several factors either exacerbate or inhibit corruption. Poor countries tend to have the highest levels (Warf, 2016), and the poor, who rely the most heavily on public services, often face demands for bribes to obtain them. Corruption flourishes in secretive environments in which deals and decisions are made out of view of the public (Jain, 2001). Democratic societies tend to have lower levels of corruption because they create mechanisms for accountability and the enforcement of laws (Moreno, 2002). Indeed, many of the most notoriously corrupt governments at present are profoundly anti-democratic (Treisman, 2000; Billger and Goel, 2009); examples include North Korea, China, Iran and Eritrea. Low literacy rates also contribute: uninformed populations cannot be made easily aware of the extent of government malfeasance. Unsurprisingly, corruption is the most severe in countries without an effective independent media, which serves as a watchdog and a whistle blower (Brunetti and Weder, 2003). Low salaries of public employees are a common cause (van Rijckeghent and Weder, 2001).

Globalization may have several effects on corruption, although the relations between the two are contingent and complex. Foreign investors, for example, may prefer relatively non-corruption environments in which the costs of doing business are low. Lalountas et al. (2011), using cross-section data for 127 countries, found that globalization [in the forms of foreign direct investment (FDI) and import penetration] mitigated corruption in relatively developed countries but had little impact in poorer ones. Corrupt practices such as smuggling or black market money exchanges flourish when government policies are overly restrictive, unduly complicated, irrational, rigid or unrealistic (such as setting official exchange rates too high). Corrupt countries tend to have porous borders through which drugs, weapons or slaves may be moved easily.

Finally, corruption is often associated with the “resource curse”. Economists have noted the “paradox of plenty”, in which resource-dependent economies often perform worse than those lacking in such wealth (Bulte et al., 2005; Humphreys et al., 2007). Raw materials usually command low prices on the world market, and their revenue streams may be easily diverted by well-connected elites. Resource-rich countries may be also more inhospitable to democratic institutions (Jensen and Wantchekon, 2004), particularly when potential public revenues from the exports of oil, copper or diamonds are minimized by poorly enforced taxation policies.

Corruption also reflects cultural norms, which vary widely among societies. Where it is widespread and endemic, it is often accepted simply as another part of doing business. Bribery may be viewed simply as a means to get the bureaucratic machinery to move forward, and enriching oneself at public expense may not be seen as particularly loathsome. As Bardhan (1997, p. 1330) puts it, “What is regarded in one culture as corrupt may be considered a part of routine transaction in another”. Masculinist cultures tend to exhibit more corruption than do societies in which women hold larger shares of public office (Goetz, 2000; Swamy et al., 2001). Parboteeah et al. (2014) suggest that varying ethical climates, including the teaching of ethics in corporate and public sector human resources departments, help to explain the geography of African corruption.

Corruption has numerous corrosive effects on an economy and society. In societies in which it is deeply entrenched, it lowers public morale and creates cynicism and distrust of the state. In Mali, for example, the overthrow of President Moussa Traoré in 1991 led to the burning of customs and tax offices, traditional centers of high-level corruption and embezzlement (Harsh, 1993). Corruption also inhibits the efficiency and effectiveness of government policies, including the appropriate delivery of public monies to their intended ends. Corrupt construction contractors may erect buildings that are shoddy and unsafe, or use public funds to build luxury homes for wealthy politicians. In South Africa, corrupt elites captured the public utilities, awarding themselves with subsidized water, while the poor pay higher prices charged by private firms (Auriol and Blanc, 2009). Nepotistic hiring short-circuits meritocratic hiring systems and fills public offices with unqualified, underqualified or incompetent staff. Corruption can also undermine the quality of education and retard progress in eliminating illiteracy (Reinikka and Svensson, 2005).

Numerous economists have studied corruption’s influences on markets (Mauro, 1995; Bardhan, 1997; Aidt, 2003; Rose-Ackerman, 2006). High levels of corruption are associated with reduced FDI (Wei, 2000; Habib and Zurawicki, 2002). By raising transactions costs, it increases the cost of doing business, notably production and transportation costs, and reduces profits. Corruption raises the barriers to entry for non-privileged groups, notably those lacking in political connections (Fisman, 2001) and funds for bribes and kickbacks. Corruption also increases inequality (Gupta et al., 2002), typically imposing its greatest costs on the poor.

Corruption in africa is a tragedy.


Rate This Content
The Reasons why Mankind is Corrupt
October 30, 2017

There’s many reason why mankind became so corrupt and evil. Some may not understand how can mankind be so evil when they’re made in God’s image. The coming of the world. When entering the world and seeing the disruptive actions so many may start to mimic such behavior. Temptation is one of the reasons why the corruption begins. Desiring of things in which we shouldn’t have. Below are some of the reasons why mankind is so corrupt.

  1. Envy
  2. Greed
  3. Temptations
  4. Anger
  5. Bitterness


Mankind is exposed to all sorts of environments and will mimic the behaviors in the environments. Some enter into darkness and may never find their way out. For some becoming evil and corrupt stems from pain. Going through a lot of pain can make persons bitter and become angry. That’s why it’s best to find ways to stay mentally healthy. Engaging in positive activities can help. Surrounding ourselves around inspirational people can help prevent emotions which can lead to a dark path.

Avoiding the Corruption

Some may feel as if they’re unable to avoid becoming corrupt. There has to be a desire to not want to become corrupt. So many continue to develop corruption and may not have the will power to allow the thoughts of corruption to leave. There are some who simply chose to become corrupt due to greed. Their desire to gain more lead the individuals to the pathway of corruption. Some are so corrupt and refuse to stop being corrupt due to fear. There are some who believe that if they’re any other way then they may not be accepted.

Too many fall victim of corruption. So many have become evil due to their environments. There are some who only follow orders from the most corrupt persons. Dictators are full of corruption and evilness. Their desire to be the most powerful causes the bad behavior. No matter what’s said or done the ones who desire to be corrupt will and the ones who will want to cease the corruption will try very hard to be released from the corruption. It’s really sad to see so many cause so much havoc. Not willing to be good citizens, not willing to build better environments, or willing to allow advancement.

So many desire to punish, discipline, but refuse to look in the mirror and see what they truly are. Pointing fingers when in no position to do so. Causing chaos and displaying their menacing behavior. Telling so many how to live their lives and rarely focusing on their own lives. Trying so hard to alter perceptions. It appears as if not too many are willing to be “good.” So many are close to the pit of hell. Not too many appear to have gladness when there elevation occurs. So many coming up against the very ones who are in a position to generate positive changes. “How Many Have Noticed the Corruption and how Many are Willing to Take a Stand Against Corruption?” (Tanikka Paulk). Doesn’t appear as if too many are willing to do so.

Image Credit: Pixabay Free to use Even Commercially


Rate This Content
The Oscars; awards that mean nothing
February 27, 2017

Years ago, the crowds and the hype made it clear that this picture or that one was a must see.    People felt that this one was sure to get the Academy Award, but that one got it.   It wasn’t that great a shock, any more than then the 5 to 1 winner beating the 3 to 1 favourite.

Now, with all the hype and the need to ‘diversify’  one knew ‘the fix was in’ and that despite the audience, the hype,  the quality, La La Land was NOT going to win.

It reminds me of the time when Janet was to get the job.

I live in a Kakistocracy; that is a government by the very worst people.  In my country the government is NOT corrupt, Corruption IS our form of governance.    In short, if you have to apply for a job, you won’t get it.

Good jobs, those with a big title and a lot of money and little work are given to persons who are;

sleeping with those in power, related to those in power, are being groomed for power, or are owed money by those in power.

So X organisation is created to give Sharp a position so he will be in the public’s eye and have a perch from which to run for Parliament.

When Sharp runs and is elected, the post he vacates is given to Fill In who is going to be moved as soon as another person who has to Get Something needs to Get Something.

As Big Man wanted his woman to have a Big Post,  the position was to be given to Janet.

Because I live in this country, and know the way ‘it goes’ before I applied for the position, I checked.  As I have some link to the Kaka that run the country, I knew that Fill In was a Fill In.

I made a phone call to a contact.

I was told, “I’ll call you back.”

The next day, I was told; “Janet is going to get the Post.”

I didn’t apply.

Someone Else decided to apply for the post.  She had more experience.  On every criteria she was the better candidate.   Someone Else went to the first interview, and impressed.  Someone Else went to the second Interview and She impressed.

The Board voted to give the Post to Someone Else.

But the Chairman, who knew how things go, claimed Janet had been selected.

This led to some behind the scenes maneuvering,  but, unlike the Oscars, it never came out in public.   Someone Else never knew she had been chosen.   Someone Else didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment the cast of La La Land did.

Best Picture was announced.  The Cast came up on stage. The audience applauded because they knew La La Land was the Best Movie.

But because ‘the fix was in’ and Hollywood had to ‘Let The Wookies Win’, for the first time in History, there was this ‘mistake’.

Outside of the baby who was born yesterday, we all know that the Awards Had to be Given to non-whites.  Black actors/actresses HAD to win.

It didn’t matter what was the Best, what the Public wanted or didn’t want, Moonlight, like Janet, had to win.

So whatever lies, tricks, explanations are given, everyone knows that La La Land will have the viewing public, and Moonlight will be, like Janet, given the ‘award’, not because of quality or votes, but because ‘the fix was in’.

And this time, it was made evident.

Sometimes someone just has to announce it.   Sometimes, before applications and interviews, are wasted, because Janet was sleeping with a Big Man, she had to get the job, qualifications and ability, insignificant.

Because the Oscars were ‘Too White’ the awards had to be given to non-whites.

Corruption triumphs.


Rate This Content
The Ten Most Corrupt Countries
January 30, 2017

Although many countries are corrupt, the Top Ten seem to have exceeded.

Transparency International  blames/attributes corruption on what is called the rise of ‘populism’.   People are elected because they appeal to the basest levels of human being.  They are elected,  get into office, which they are not capable of managing.  This has led to an increase in corruption.

Transparency International has published it’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

This is based on surveys with the World Bank,  and The World Economic Forum  as well as the Economist Intelligence Unit, which had determined that corruption increased in 2016.

The reason for corruption is often pointed out as the unequal distribution of power and wealth.  This fuels social inequality.  People then turn to populist politicians whom they feel will help them. Once in power,  the populist office holder become more dictatorial.

For example, in Turkey,  Recep Erdogan has tightened his grip on power.  Getting the people behind him he will do what he feels is in his interest.  The same is true of Viktor Orban of Hungary.

This is the List Today:

The most corrupt:

1. Somalia
2. South Sudan
3. North Korea
4. Syria
5. Yemen
6. Sudan
7. Libya
8. Afghanistan
9. Guinea-Bissau
10. Venezuela/Iraq (joint)

One has to see with Syria, they are having a terrible civil war.  Libya has no government, nor does Afghanistan or Iraq; to be honest.

The United States is now listed at number 18. Transparency International states this is because of Trump’s government appointments and his failure to divest himself of his business interests were “rife with potential conflicts of interest”.

This is, of course, no surprise.   Trump has been very careful not to put Saudi Arabia on his list, nor anywhere he has a hotel or other business interests.   He seems to be using the office of President to fill his pockets. Not surprising.

It is interesting to see how ‘high’ America will go on this list.

By the way; Jamaica is 83 out of 176.   Not too bad.

Rate This Content

Corruption is not new to everyone, I guess. Since the time my mind is open from the nature of government we are living in, corruption is one of the issues that are hard to get rid of. However, not all but when we watch news about every country, corruption is always on the top reason for every problem.

With this kind of problem, total quality of life will not be given to each people. But then, there are ways to eradicate corruption from its very roots:

  1. Stop corruption in public information. Corruption in one government would be minimized if there will be transparency and fairness in our public reports and records.
  2. Stop corruption in health and nutrition. If people have a healthy mind and body, they would have better ways of thinking and living. But with an empty stomach and having a sick family member who cannot afford a doctor and a medicine, that person could resort to committing a crime. Therefore, the government should focus on laws and programs that address the basic health and food requirement, especially the need of the poor people.
  3. Stop corruption in education. The lack of knowledge can narrow one’s mind and decisions. Hence, the government should intensify education in a country for all levels. If a person knows more, we can think more, and we can do better.
  4. Stop corruption in every laborer. There should be an adequate wage hike for all workers as all basic needs become higher in prices. If workers have enough salary, fraud and corruption can be minimized, especially in the government offices.
  5. Stop corruption of peace. Policemen and soldier must stick to what their duties are. It is to maintain peace and order, not on the other way around. Police officers must avoid taking money from violators of law in exchange for freedom.
  6. Stop corruption of morality. Adult community and the government should protect the young ones from corrupting their minds.
  7. Stop corruption of our natural resources.
  8. Stop corruption on our national heritage.
  9. Stop corruption at home. Parents play a vital role in forming the personalities of their children as they grow up.
  10. Stop corruption of law and justice. Everyone should respect the law, whether it is about plunder, theft, murder or simply jaywalking. There should be fairness to every law offenders. There should be no exemptions.
  11. Stop corruption within ourselves. Know how to manage what you have. Avoid buying unnecessary things.

Maybe the above-listed ways to stop corruption is a basic knowledge to everyone. These ways come into my mind after watching news about some politicians who are involved in such issues.



Rate This Content
If You Have To Apply for the Post, You Won’t Get It
December 10, 2016
If You Have To Apply for the Post, You Won't Get It_culture of corruption

In a previous article I mentioned the fact that in Jamaica, if you have to apply for a position, you won’t get it.

I’m not talking about those low level open door type of things where there is no prestige and the pay is low.

I’m discussing the kind of posts you apply for, submit your Curriculum Vitae and will be interviewed in a conference room or office.

These posts only go to a small category of people;

1. Bed Warmers

When a man is dispensing with last year’s gal so as to take up with this one, and he is a politician or has money, he gets the gal a post; whether in government or business.
It will come with a title and a bag of perquisites.

The gal can’t do the job, obviously, so there will be assistants and various consultants and advisers also hired.

In some cases the gal is the wife of some guy the Person in Charge needs to please, so she gets the post. The other candidates may be far more qualified, but she gets the post.

In other cases, a guy, to protect his pocket, gets a job for his gal so that she has her own money and won’t be bothering him every minute.

2. Blood

Who your father or mother is, or your grandfather, or you uncle or aunt makes an application for a position a formality. You want it? It is yours.

Whether you need to take your shoes off to count over ten, whether you virtually need a handler to keep you walking a straight line doesn’t matter.

When you want the job you make it clear that ‘My Daddy is the Member of Parliament for…” or “My Uncle owns that big company…” and the carpet is rolled out.

3. Favours/Money

A lot of rich people buy a politician. Not that they expect the politician to have much use in anything that interests them, but they expect the politician to insure that they or their children get posts.

High Paying, lots of perquisite posts.

Some people see/hear things they shouldn’t and to make sure their families don’t collect on their life insurance, just ask for something they can get; like…oh… Advisor to the Minister of… or Chairman of…. nothing difficult to be granted.

This is why Jamaica and other such nations are kakiscracies. You can bet the guy who is appointed ‘consultant’ knows less about the field he is to be consulted on then the person who asks him.

You can put your pot on the fire when some big post comes vacant  that the person who is going to get it falls into one of the 3 categories.

If you are a fool and want to make enemies, just be qualified and apply for the post before finding out if it is already promised.

The best thing to do is have a ‘contact’ who can tell you, (six months before the vacancy) that ‘Janet‘ is going to get it. That means you don’t bother apply.

It doesn’t matter if you wrote the law. It doesn’t matter if you have been in the field for ten years. Ability, qualifications, experience mean nothing. If you don’t fall into one of the 3 categories, you won’t get it.

Rate This Content
Is Suicide the Only Way Out?
November 7, 2016
tree-of-death_Is Suicide the Only Way Out?

Ex-Director General  in the Corporate Affairs Ministry (Delhi)  was arrested on the grounds of accepting a bribe from a pharmaceutical company to clear them of mal practices, in July this year.

Having no way to get out of the situation the only recourse left was to commit suicide. He, his son, his wife and daughter all committed suicide on the same day.

:Looking at the situation what was in store for this family seemed worse than getting out of this world and relieving themselves by committing suicide.

The repercussion of his deeds would have left them on the streets having once lived in luxury. Rather than go through that they preferred the only alternative left for them.

Suicide is condemned and it is easy for those who have no reason to commit suicide to think that it is a heinous crime. But having to live in torture rest of their life having no other choice,  why would anyone want to go through it? .

The breaking news has more details on how much this man had amassed and thinking that what he amassed would slip out of his hands perhaps made him take this extreme step. They must have all discussed the issue before ending their life.

For more on this you can visit the following link:


Yet on the other hand, there was this builder who failed  to keep to commitments as he became bankrupt because of lack of business ideas. Rather than commit suicide he fled the country with his family. Reports have it that he is doing extremely well wherever he is   and has started his real estate venture with thumping success.

I wonder whether this minister who committed suicide could not have thought on those lines rather than kill himself and his family. Surely he must have had friends here and there who could have helped him fled the country. This is wrong no doubt but atleast lives would have been saved.

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/tree-of-death-silhouette-black-1465799/

Rate This Content