The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International(TI) was released yesterday, January 29, 2019. The index draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). In this 2018 CPI, Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest scoring region with an average score of 32/100.
Only six of 49 countries in the region score more than 50 out of 100 on the index. These countries include Seychelles, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Rwanda, Namibia, and Mauritius, putting them at the top of the region. Somalia remains at the very bottom of the index for the seventh year in a row with 10 points, followed by South Sudan (13), Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea Bissau with 16 points each to round off the lowest scores in the region.
Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, The Gambia – Improvers
Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal made significant improvements for the second year in a row. In the last six years, Côte d’Ivoire moved from 27 points in 2013 to 35 points in 2018, while Senegal moved from 36 points in 2012 to 45 points in 2018. The Gambia also improved by seven points from last year to score 37 this year. The improvement of these countries is attributed to the positive consequences of institutional reforms, as well as a political commitment in the fight against corruption demonstrated by their leaders.
Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya – Countries to watch
Nigeria scores 27 out of 100 points, only a point’s increase from 28 in 2017. The country ranks 144 out of 180 countries, four places up from its 148th position in 2017. President Muhammadu Buhari led his 2015 election campaign with corruption as one of the biggest topics. Once elected, he established an advisory committee against corruption and implemented other measures to keep his promise of ridding the country of corruption like public procurement, asset declaration, and the development of a national anti-corruption strategy.
But as the index shows, there has been no significant progress. This is not surprising. In the last four years, Buhari has faced constant criticism over his lopsided anti-corruption war that is often targeted at his opposers. Still, with major elections around the corner, Transparency International is waiting to see what progress a new administration will make with anti-corruption commitments.
Kenya and South Africa are both listed among countries to watch on the CPI. Like Nigeria, Kenya scores 27 points and ranks 144 on the index. While South Africa’s score of 43 remains unchanged since 2017. The country ranks 73 out 180. According to TI, citizen engagement played a crucial role in the fight against corruption in both countries, thanks to social media.
This past year, citizens of Kenya and South Africa used social media to drive public conversations around corruption. Government officials in both countries also engaged with the public by means of social media. “The rise of mobile technology means ordinary citizens in many countries now have instant access to information, and an ability to voice their opinions in a way that previous generations did not,” TI stated.
Recommendations for the region
One common issue countries in sub-Saharan Africa face is a crisis of democracy. Autocratic regimes, weak institutions, civil repression, and unresponsive political systems continue to undermine anti-corruption efforts. To tackle these issues and witness significant progress in their anti-corruption wars, governments in the region must:
- protect human rights defenders, anti-corruption activists and investigative journalists and allow them to speak out on corruption issues;
- close the implementation gap between anti-corruption legislation, practice and enforcement;
- improve the health of democratic institutions by supporting participation, transparency and trust, along with necessary checks and balances.