Recent allegations of fraud and corruption in Uganda have prompted donors like the European Union, Germany, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom to suspend direct aid payments to the government.
Just how much of a problem is corruption really? Transparency International, the nonprofit group, provides some answers with an annual index that measures the perceived level of corruption in countries around the world.
Uganda ranked 130th out of 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index 2012 released Dec. 5 by the Berlin-based organization. Countries are given a score between 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) and Uganda earned a score of 29.
Botswana was the highest-ranked among all sub-Saharan countries – at number 30 with a score of 65. It was tied with Spain and higher than some donors like South Korea, which ranked 45th, and Brazil (ranked 69th).
Botswana also topped other sub-Saharan African countries in the 2011 index. Further, its president – Seretse Ian Khama – was named by The East African Magazine as the most successful leader in Africa in 2011 in terms of good governance, democracy, corruption and human development, among other criteria.
Other sub-Saharan countries that fared well in Transparency International’s 2012 index – meaning, they got scores above 50 – were Rwanda and the Seychelles. Namibia, meanwhile, got a score of 48 while Ghana and Lesotho both got a score of 45 and were tied on 64th place overall.
Somalia, which is undergoing political transition after its general elections in September, placed at the bottom of the global index, along with North Korea and Afghanistan, which has had its own share of high-profile cases such as that of the Kabul Bank, which has been accused of operating a Ponzi scheme. All three countries earned scores of 8 out of the possible 100.
Corruption can hold back development – in more ways than one. On top of prompting aid suspensions and discouraging investments, it diverts public funds to private interests and robs people of access to education, health care and other basic services. A 2009 Asian Development Bank study, for instance, has estimated that countries can lose up to 17 percent of their gross domestic product to corruption.
That’s why the United Nations and other aid groups have been bumping governance and institutional development up in their list of priorities. And on Dec. 9, International Anti-Corruption Day, the U.N. call will be clear: Act against corruption.
As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.