Nearly 130 Million Africans Pay Bribes for Public Services

More than one in four people across 35 African countries paid bribes in the past year to access public resources, according to a new report from Transparency International published Thursday.

AfricaBarometerOver 47,000 people were interviewed (Source: Transparency International)Corruption continues to hinder growth in African countries, Thursday’s report says, seeking to explain which officials in the countries they surveyed are the most corrupt, if citizens had trust in their government to fix corruption and what they think about the future of their countries in regard to rooting out corruption. 

“Africans believe they can make a difference,” Paul Banoba, Regional Advisor to East Africa, said. “Governments must allow them the space to do so.”

Police are seen as the most widely corrupt public institution, according to the report, with 47% of citizens responding they had paid bribes in the past year. Government officials and parliamentarians are seen as the second and third most corrupt groups.

Young people are at the most risk to pay bribes in order to access public services from filing a police report to getting health care, according to the report. Men are also more likely than women to pay a bribe to a corrupt official.

“Public sector corruption doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Foreign bribery and money laundering divert

critical resources away from public services, and ordinary citizens suffer most,” Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said.

Out of the 35 countries surveyed, TI reports that the highest bribery rate takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While experts estimate that the country’s mineral resources are worth nearly US$24 trillion, it has been plagued with challenges. Congo is still recovering from the 1998-2003 war and armed groups continue to fight. Because of political instability, any anti-corruption measures are extremely challenging to implement.

Not everything is bleak for the countries surveyed. Over half of respondents believe ordinary people can help fight corruption and make a difference. Gambians believe that their government is also doing a good job in combating corruption.

The report also set future recommendations for combating corruption including, protection for whistleblowers, political funding transparency, publically registering shell companies and setting ethical guidelines.