How Africans Are Dealing With Everyday Corruption
When accessing basic services, more than 1 in 4 people are still being squeezed for bribes.
Corruption was a key driver of the frustrations that have transformed Sudan this year: When President Omar al-Bashir was forced out of office in April by the military after months of civilian-led protests over his authoritarian grip and a tanking economy, he had around $113 million in cash in his house.
But Sudan is far from alone. According to the latest Global Corruption Barometer for Africa, a massive public opinion survey led by Transparency International and Afrobarometer, Sudan came in second in terms of the percentage of people who thought that corruption increased in the last 12 months—behind the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 85 percent of people thought it had been getting worse.
Drawn from the experiences of more than 47,000 people across 35 African countries, the report estimates that around 130 million people have paid bribes in the last year when they were seeking access to everyday services like health care, education, requesting a government-issued ID, or a chance at justice.
While corruption is a global problem—as anyone focused on the issue in Russia, Mexico, or Indonesia can confirm—and levels of corruption and perceptions of government efforts to combat it vary widely across Africa, there are some standout trends. “The people who are paying bribes are twice as likely to be the poorest, people who are less advantaged and under extreme pressure,” said Sheila Masinde, Transparency International’s project manager for Kenya.
How Corruption Varies Across 35 African Countries
Foreign Policy explored how the prevalence of corruption varies across Africa and how it is taking shape across four key points of contact with the state: hospitals, schools, the police, and places where identification documents are issued.
Jefcoate O'Donnell is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @brjodonnell