Editor’s Note: January 31, 2019
Does more corruption always mean less development?
Transparency International has just released its 2018 corruption perception index. It ranks 180 countries globally according to perceived levels of public sector corruption among experts and business people on a scale of 0 – 100, with the latter being the best possible score.
In what has become a ritual since it was first published in 1995, sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s worst performing region with an average score of 32.
The findings will come as news to no one. Corruption has long been linked to underdevelopment on the continent.
But the index raises an awkward issue. More corruption does not necessarily mean less development.
China – the standout success of recent decades – sits below the likes of Ghana, Senegal and Burkina Faso at 87. Eastern Europe and Central Asia score marginally higher than sub-Saharan Africa at 35, while emerging markets like Brazil (105), Vietnam (117) and Turkey (78) have average to poor scores. Yet they outperform their African counterparts on most development indicators.
There is no contradiction here. High levels of corruption have accompanied development in every corner of the globe – including developed economies.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean corruption is not a serious problem for Africa – or desirable.
It’s a reminder that there is more to economic development than tackling graft.
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