There seems to be a cyclical component to Africa’s woes. The same story told over and over with different names. Some might say Africa is a broken continent, that it cannot save itself from its deep troubles. Others might see hope or a light at the end of the tunnel for the troubled nation. In order to determine whether or not there is actual hope for a promising future in Africa, it is important to analyze the past and the current happenings within the nation as deep rooted causes need to be remedied before expecting any long-term change to hold. We will explore one of the nation’s main issues, corruption, and why it exists.
Ripe with corruption, African nations seem to have an affinity for following corrupt leaders, known as the powerful man (PSU WC, 2017 L. 14). These leaders assume power during chaotic times and provide a temporary sense of stability for the people though underlying corruption and oppression are actually taking place (PSU WC, 2017 L. 14). As an example, it has been noted by CNN in an article covering Africa’s corruption that 7 out of 10 people in Liberia, a country in Africa, say they have had to pay bribes in order to access basic services like schooling and healthcare (M. Veselinovic, 2016). The same article quotes José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International an organization that leads the fight against corruption, who said, “Corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion. While corrupt individuals with political power enjoy a lavish life, millions of Africans are deprived of their basic needs like food, health, education, housing, access to clean water and sanitation.” (M. Veselinovic, 2016).
So why is corruption such a constant in Africa. An article in The Guardian entitled, The awful legacy of Africa’s top-level corruption is a culture of mistrust, purports that there is a strong lack of trust within the nation and that people have lost faith in the good nature of people. Because of this, “People practice corruption because they are convinced others are doing the same. The cycle continues.” (R. Adekoya, 2014). Could it be that a culture with a storied history of corruption and mistrust no longer has the ability to trust their governments or even their neighbors?
It has been noted, “70% of the world’s poorest countries are located in this region (Africa) competing over resources that could make a very big difference to individuals as well as nations and cultures” (PSU WC, 2017 L. 14) and that, “60% of the continent is underdeveloped by modern global standards.” (PSU WC, 2017 L.14). Another reason corruption is prevalent may be the dependence Africa has on foreign aid, international institutions and export revenues (K. Somerville, 2016). This dependence enables the ruling elites to control incoming and outgoing financial flows and broker political deals that in the process fatten their pockets and continue the cycle of power and oppression, supporting the old saying, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. (W. Harrison, 1840).
A final reason for the corruption in Africa may be the lack of accountability African governments have in reporting their earnings, allocation of funds, salaries etc. (T. Halka, 2015). If there is no watch dog, there is more opportunity for corruption.
These are only some of the reasons corruption exists in Africa, they will need to be fixed before real change can take place. It is important that nations supporting Africa also support ethical leadership and hold themselves accountable to ensuing the resources and funds provided enter the right hands and are distributed appropriately, keeping in mind that there is a bigger picture than just money and resources.
Veselinovic, M. (2016, January). Why corruption is holding Africa back. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/24/africa/africa-corruption-transparency-international/
Penn State University World Campus. (n.d.). Africa. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1826457/modules/items/21654195
Adekoya, R. (2014, July). The awful legacy of Africa’s top-level corruption is a culture of mistrust. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/03/africa-top-level-corruption-culture-mistrust-ebola-crisis
Somerville, K. (2016, October). Keeping it Family: How Africas corrupt leaders stay in power. Global Geneva. Retrieved from http://www.global-geneva.com/keeping-it-family-how-africas-corrupt-leaders-stay-in-power/
Hlaka, T. (2015, April 10). Transparency and Accountability. The way forward in fighting corruption in Africa. Retrieved from http://corruptionwatchconnected.org/show/my-corruption-free-africa/post/127/transparency-and-accountability-the-way-forward-in-fighting-corruption-in-africa–by-oluwatosin-omole