Corruption Perception in East Africa



Transparency International has released its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2019 and once again Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst performing region in the world. Of the 48 countries on the continent assessed the average score was just 32 out of 100. The global average stands at 43.


Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan fell at the bottom of the measure, which takes in 180 countries globally each year. At the upper end Botswana topped the list of Africa countries on a score of 61.


The highest scoring East African country remains Rwanda, with a score of 53 points. However, it did lose its position as the third least corrupt country on the continent and dropped three points on its 2018 score of 56. After years of reform and a combination of donor government support and homegrown initiatives Rwanda now ranks 51st, an impressive feat considering it ranked just 121st in 2006. The extent of its progress was recently recognised by the United Nations (UN) when the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) signed an agreement with Rwanda for the country to serve as a global centre for training on anti-corruption.


The 2019 Index suggests that in more recent years Tanzania has recorded the most progress in the region when it comes to fighting corruption. With a score of 37 the country still lags behind Rwanda, but it now ranks 21 places higher than it did in 2015 at 96th.

However, concerns regarding human rights and authoritarianism threaten to undermine the country’s progress on this score. President Magufuli’s anti-corruption efforts have proved divisive, with some accusing him of using his stance as cover to restrict freedoms and crackdown on opposition. Critics of the government have also pointed to findings by Afrobarometer that 71 per cent of Tanzanians fear retaliation for reporting corruption to the authorities.  In the words of opposition figure Zitto Kabwe “We are told that this administration is fighting corruption, yet the same administration resists all forms of transparency and passes laws to ensure it can continue conducting its business in the dark.”


Kenya and Uganda both scored 28 in the latest Index, ranking 137th. Both countries appear more or less stuck on scores around the mid 20s for some time and while the 2019 scores represent an improvement of the 2018 scores by one and two points respectively it would seem that strong anti-corruption rhetoric by both government is yet to translate into significant results. As the latest CPI report stated of Kenya, “Since 2012, Kenya has scored between 25 and 28, out of 100, having recorded a score of 27 in 2018, depicting slow progress in the fight against corruption.”


Trailing behind is Burundi, which scored just 19 in 2019, although this was a two-point improvement on its score of 17 in 2018. South Sudan falls at the bottom on just 12 points.

The Corruption Perception index has its limitations. However, it provides an interesting insight into which countries are at least heading in the right direction and helps to cut through the headline catching initiatives announced by politicians as they seek to emphasise their corruption fighting credentials.

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