Prevalence of Bribery in Africa

The case for high prevalence of bribery in Africa has been reinforced through corruption reports ranking countries on its various components. In the 2008 corruption perception index, Transparency International (TI) for instance identifies Somalia to be the most corrupt country globally (402). Additionally, only one African country – Botswana  – makes to the top 50 positions in the least corrupt countries with its rank at position 36 (TI 398). Further, of the 11 most corrupt countries in the TI rank, African countries contribute more than half to that list with seven countries featuring (402). Although the TI rankings have faced criticism on their objectivity (as qtd. in Gyimah-Brempong 184), other pointers to the widespread cases of bribery can be found in the development of African dialects (e.g. toa kitu kidogo in Kenya, nkunku in Cameroon, and goro in Nigeria) that aim to capture the widespread bribery in provision of services (Gyimah-Brempong 184). In the Tire Dealer case study, such widespread occurrence of bribery is evident in the employees’ advice to the entrepreneur to “pay off a few people” so that they could get customer patronage; a feat that had proved elusive.

The impact of corruption in Africa is also amplified by its unique features. Firstly, it is argued that the systemic nature of corrupt activities in Africa and Africa’s weak and fragile institutions in Africa could potentiate the deleterious effects of corruption to the African economies (Gyimah-Brempong 184). Secondly, Africa’s position as a core recipient of aid intended to spur economic growth, makes it susceptible to increased diversion of amounts advanced, thus retarding the intended development (Gyimah-Brempong 185). Unlike in Asia where a more centralized corruption framework exists, in Africa the practice is decentralized thus paying bribe may not guarantee automatic receipt of perceived benefit (Gyimah-Brempong 185). Such a scenario is argued to discourage FDI in Africa thus aggravating the effect of bribery on the continent’s economic outcomes. When these economic costs are contrasted with cultural perspectives that argue for bribery as a way of life in African customs, the need to evaluate the ethics of bribery with respect to the continent arises. Go to part 3 here.

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