Efforts to make African governments accountable have
suffered setbacks, due to pressures generated by the global
volatile economic environment, experts and activists warned in
Abidjan this week.
Despite a wave of changes on the continent over two decades
that led to multi-party democracies being established,
accountability and corruption remain a major sticking point for
businesses operating in the region.
There are still huge corruption issues that scare away
investors and slow down the flow of foreign direct
investment, said Eric Paget-Blanc, a director at Fitch
Ratings, the credit rating agency. In Central Africa, it has
reached monumental proportions.
Sylvain Malice, planning minister of the Central African
Republic, admitted: Corruption is indeed a concern. But
some measures have been implemented. Government members and
senior officials have to declare what they own, when they get
in and when they leave office.
Operations are being monitored by an observer team
chaired by the prime minister, and money flows are being
tracked in order to avoid money laundering, he said.
Concern is widespread in the region, Paget-Blanc said.
In Cameroon, all investment projects have been
delayed as a result. Graft is also hindering progress in
the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said.
Peter Eigen, a prominent member of the Africa Progress Panel
and founder of Transparency International, said the region had
registered uneven progress on governance.
Several years ago, corruption was something people
thought it was something it was part of the game. Now there is
a better awareness, he said but the process has
suffered setbacks in key countries.
He cited the political crisis in Kenya and the social and
economic problems in South Africa as the main causes for
Another observer said: This issue is at the heart of
the political fighting in Kenya ahead of the constitutional
referendum in September. The current proposal does not
include any mechanism to improve governance, he said.
Corruption is still rampant in 31 out the
47 African countries surveyed by Transparency International.
Setbacks are more numerous than improvements compared to
previous years, said the African Development Bank.
The situation in South Africa continues to deteriorate
while in 2007 South Africa numbered among the best
performers on the continent, according to an AfDB
Last year a survey conducted by the African Union showed
that the cost of corruption amounts to around 10% of Africa
resources-generated wealth. Africa still suffers from
human and financial deficits in its governance
institutions, said the AfDB.