Corruption, a major obstacle to economic growth in Africa

The paper, titled ‘A Governance Dividend for Sub-Saharan Africa?’ stated that countries in the region tended to lag behind those in most other regions in the world in terms of governance and corruption.

Eighty per cent of sub-Saharan African countries (36 out of 45) score below the global average in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and only three of the 30 sub-Saharan African countries included in the International Country Risk Guide’s governance indicator have above-average scores.

In light of this, new leaders coming to power in Angola, Ethiopia and South Africa, besides others, have placed the fight against corruption at the top of their agenda.

“Weak governance undermines economic performance through various channels, including deficiencies in government functions and distortions to economic incentives.

“While the process would take considerable time and effort, moving the average sub-Saharan African country governance level to the global average could increase the region’s gross domestic product per capita growth by about one or two percentage points,” the IMF reported.

However, the authors of the paper pointed out that there was no “one size fits all” approach to improving governance and reducing corruption.

The experience of countries such as Botswana, Chile, Estonia and Georgia suggests that multiple factors may have contributed to their success, including political will, measures to reduce opportunities of corruption – such as less red tape and lower trade barriers, and measures to increase constraints on corrupt behavior – such as an independent judicial system, and improved fiscal institutions.

“We expect the focus on reducing corruption and improving governance to remain high on the agenda of policymakers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, as illustrated by the high-level discussions at the 2018 African Union Summit.

“Strengthening governance and fighting corruption are not easy tasks and the process is often time-consuming and requires considerable political effort but they are worth pursuing given the potentially large payoffs.”