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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
How deep is corruption in Africa?
Anti-graft posters
In Kenya, posters are being used to fight graft

In Nigeria, the international oil giant Shell admitted that it inadvertently fed conflict, poverty and corruption through its oil activities in the country.

Nigeria contributes to about 10% of Shell's global production and is home to some of its most promising reserves, yet the country is steeped in poverty and conflict.

According to Shell, it has been difficult to operate with integrity in areas of conflict like Nigeria.

In some Cameroonian public hospitals, patients say they have to put some money in the doctor's consultation book before they are attended to.

And in some schools, a student cannot pass examinations without bribing the teachers.

In Zambia, former President Fredrick Chiluba is facing corruption charges for offences he allegedly committed during his term in office.

But Kenya seems to be turning the tide, with President Mwai Kibaki making the fight a central part of his time in office.

How far does the culture of corruption go in Africa? Is it only perpetuated by big business, government officials or does it start with you?

This debate has now closed. Here are some of your comments.


I think corruption in most African countries takes place within the civil service. Civil servants are poorly paid and are forced to subsidise their income through corruption.
Hellen Kerali, Uganda/USA

Corruption is chronic. It will take time before we see it go away. There are still some honest, hardworking, sincere and committed Africans around the world. When such people are in power, you will see the change in Africa.
Pianapue Early, USA

The day when corruption is stopped in Africa will be the very day that we shall wave goodbye to poverty, wars, AIDS, crime etc.
Monyoro Alex, Sudanese in Australia.

I have been waiting for such debates for a long time. Corruption is everywhere in Africa and it is the major cause of poverty and conflicts. Corruption in Africa takes place in many forms, giving the so called "kitu kidogo" a Kiswahili word for bribes; being favoured at the expense of a more qualified and experienced colleague, nepotism or giving favours to females in exchange for sex. What a shame! The day when corruption is stopped in Africa will be the very day that we shall wave goodbye to poverty, wars, AIDS, crime etc. The bad news is that it is almost impossible.
Monyoro Alex, Sudanese in Australia.

Poverty leads to corruption. The only way to eliminate corruption is to eliminate poverty in those African countries. Anything short of this is a waste of time.
Dozzinger, USA

The Kenya government's effort in its fight against corruption is comparable to the efforts of one who digs a hole while simultaneously filling it up. Its efforts will never bear fruit unless it rids itself of those corrupt government officials that where recycled back into the new government from the previous one.
Mzee Kobe, US/Kenyan

Corruption is rapidly becoming part of us especially in Africa. In Zambia for instance you cannot get a job or a place in school if you don't corrupt someone in higher authority. We all have a part to play in order to eradicate this vice.
Wamuwi Lifuna , Lusaka, Zambia

Here in The Gambia, corruption is fuelled by a deep rooted norm we call "MASLAHA" an expression that when mentioned makes every average Gambian cool down and usually forgives or leaves what they are doing. Even the worst corrupt practices are sometimes condoned simply because of our maslaha attitude.
Dawda Alpha Jallow, The Gambia

As we grew up in Kenya, we were told told stories praising the rich men who had become so by stealing public funds or money of their employers. Anybody who handles public funds for sometime but goes back home with nothing is considered the greatest of the fools. However, we have to fight corruption day and night and teach our children that riches come through hard work and being responsible, not by stealing public funds.
Samuel, Kenyan in DRC

Once you get a coin, your appetite increases and you become a prisoner of the one who bribed you.
Pacharo Kayira, Malawi

A few years ago a cabinet Minister here in Malawi made headlines when he said "everyone is a corrupt". In most cases when we talk of corruption, images of some big bald headed beer bellied top government official or politician comes to mind. How many people are willing to part with their money to get things done in their favour? Many. As a lawyer in the public sector I have had numerous opportunities to receive bribes ranging from laughable little figures of several hundred Malawi kwacha, to staggering and tempting huge figures. I have always said NO. Once you get a coin, your appetite increases and you become a prisoner of the one who bribed you.
Pacharo Kayira, Malawi

I don't care who you are or what part of Africa you come from, but the truth is you are either corrupt or have been involved in a number of corrupt practises! Corruption is part of African culture, it's a way of life. You have to give something if you want things to go your way. It's a way of saying thank you!
K! Ondiwani, Togo

Corruption is the underlining norm in big businesses and government officials in my home land - Ethiopia. It is against my personal conviction to bribe, but I wonder what I would do if a doctor "refuses" to treat me?
Jared, USA

Poverty is the main root cause of corruption in Africa. If you need to stop corruption, end poverty first.
Peter Chol, Minnesota,USA

Corruption today is not only a vice but is gradually becoming a way of life in every sector of our society. From political circles to business board rooms to educational institutions to the health and judicial sectors. This vice is literally dismembering the African continent.
Vic Mass, Sierra Leone

Many brilliant Africans have been forced to leave their countries and work in America or Europe because they can't access the opportunities which they deserve. These highly skilled people would immensely contribute to the development of their countries, hence that of the African continent.
George Odhiambo, Kenyan in South Africa

The issue of corruption in Nigeria is one of the most shameful. But the problem is so deep rooted that we need a total paradigm change in the thinking pattern of people in Africa. I never realised giving someone a "thank you token" was bribing until I came to Europe more than a decade ago. Most people in Africa do not understand what the hassle is all about. This is part of culture that is deeply embedded in people that it is difficult to change but it can be changed.
Dr Godson Onyekwere, Poland/Nigeria

Africans must stop electing or applauding any unscrupulous and desperate politicians.
Soliu Luqman, Nigeria

If we want to fight corruption we have to reduce the number of children born in a society.
Chandru Narayan, USA

Corruption and population control are related, if we want to fight corruption we have to reduce the number of children born in a society.
Chandru Narayan, USA

Corruption is a manifestation of the quality of our leadership: dominated by greedy personalities eager to "bleed a leech to fatten a heifer". What do you expect? Big businesses and junior leaders take advantage and the society continues to decay.
Ongee, Australia/Sudan

In my country Liberia, the government has set up salary structures that they can't meet. These unpaid employees work with and see cash on a daily basis that they can't have while the few enjoy riding luxurious cars at the expense of the masses.
John Y. Flumo, Liberia

Corruption is not only found in Africa but also in the so called developed countries. You see corruption in the police forces, immigration and customs. These countries don't take bribes from individuals but from big corporations. Give Africa a break.
Jennifer Boadi-Amponim, UK

How do you expect somebody with a family who is existing on his meagre salary to survive? Corruption starts with us all.
Cornelius A. Gligui, Ghana/Russian Federation

It is sad for President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, who has been fighting "corruption", as he says but has not at all made a clear attempt to eradicate it. The first thing to ask, is why should he plead with the G8 for debt cancellation, when he himself contributed to the down fall of the economy when he was a head of state in the 70's and is doing same now.
Okpala Odilchukwu, Kumasi Ghana

I support strongly the idea of naming and shaming corrupt officials.
Thomas Ayeni Lagos Nigeria.

As the second most corrupt country Nigeria is a classical case of what corruption can do to a nation. Nigeria's corrupt state can be remedied if and only if the political and collective will is there. It is a sad indictment that a country so richly blessed in natural and human resources still has more than 70% of its populace surviving on less than a dollar a day. I support strongly the idea of naming and shaming corrupt officials; being a proud people Nigerians would be very wary the moment they know they could not only be caught but also named and shamed publicly for corrupt acts.
Thomas Ayeni Lagos Nigeria.

Corruption is something that we cannot wipe out in Africa. All our leaders are birds of the same flock. We pray that God will send a radical leader that has the interest of the ordinary man at heart to wipe it out completely.
Augustine Foday, Sierra-Leone

In Cameroon, government contracts are being given out on percentage basis. Once the contract has been awarded workers need to bribe contractors in order to have a job.The government is aware of all this but since it is this corrupt system that is keeping them in place, they don't bother to do anything about it.
Linus, Cameroonian

Corruption in Africa is more than skin deep, it will take a miracle to purge it from the continent. Today, no facet of African life is untouched by it and I can safely say that any African who portrays himself to be above board is a living lie.
Yahaya E. Jalingo, Liberia

True, corruption is a deep rooted parasitic culture that reaps from other people's sweat and hard work. Corruption can be fought through a legal framework that is double edged to penalise the giver and the taker.
Malinda Harrahs, Kenyan in Germany

The government in Nigeria lacks the commitment give citizens their entitlements. It demeans its nationals. A good example is military pensioners not being paid their monies for more than 10 months.
Job Tishe, Nigeria

Everyone is corrupt, the politicians, public officials and religious leaders. Even those who believe in national unity are being forced to join the race. The politicians and public officials enrich themselves with kickbacks from contractors and loot the nation's property. The religious leaders divert government attention by organising riots among ordinary people. Unfortunately, the people responsible for fighting corruption in my country, Nigeria, are the same people encouraging it!
Majid oziaminu, Nigeria

African governments and donors may have reduced the amount being paid in sitting allowances for pointless committee meetings, but now there is a plague of workshops being held throughout Africa. Government participants get free 5-star accommodation and $50 per night. Is this where Western donor money is going? Just go to any luxury safari lodge, and see how many of these wasteful meetings are being held.
John Smith, Zambia

It's easy to claim I would never take a bribe since my children and I have everything we need. How can one blame people for accepting bribes if that's the only way they can feed their family? Of course it's wrong, but it would never have been this widespread in Africa if living conditions had not made it nearly impossible for people to survive.
Lieve Hoogsteyns, Belgium

How deep is corruption in Africa. I was born in South Africa and under Apartheid there were very few non-white people holding positions of any value and it was whites that demanded the bribes.The Africans have seen this and now it is a way of life, some believing if the white lords can do it why not me? We should introduce the Chinese system where the bribe takers are publicly paraded.
Thomas Kantha, Japan

Millions of Africans today live below the poverty line because of the canker of corruption.
Osabutey Anny, Ghana

I believe corruption is as deadly as the AIDS virus and should therefore be seen as such. Millions of Africans today live below the poverty line because of the canker of corruption.
Osabutey Anny, Ghana

The African continent will never find a solution to corruption as long as both top officials in the private and public sectors are dishonest. When the head of the fish starts to rotten, its the rest of the body that will later be affected.
Ali Adamou, N'Djaména, Chad

In Zimbabwe I used to run my own business dealing with mining spares. Most of the larger company purchasing departments would not place an order with us unless a "sweetener" was paid first. Nothing extortionate in terms of sums of money, but it was always a reminder that the buyers "generosity" would bring out our generosity!
Alex, UK

I would never take a bribe. However, I make that statement as a citizen of a Western nation. Unlike many African public employees I, like every US public employee, can expect to be paid a salary that exceeds the minimum wage many times over, every Friday . I can also count on health insurance, paid vacation, paid tuition and safe working conditions. Unfortunately, such basic tenants of public employment are not assured for African public employees and thus, many are forced to take bribes just to survive. True, there are African public employees that are simply greedy. But if people are faced with the choice of taking a bribe and surviving, or not taking a bribe and starving, most people (if they are telling the truth) would take the bribe.
Dana Bruce, US

Corruption in Africa is growing at an alarming rate due to poverty which is rampant. Miserable salaries that can not suffice to cater for a big and extended family force many people to opt for bribes to meet the needs.
, Malawi

Corruption has gone from a mere act of accepting bribes to a complete state of mind and way of life. It has progressed from the poor attempting to "make ends meet" to a sense of entitlement from anyone in a position of authority. Change must happen from the top and the bottom. Officials must set the example and all others must follow.
Rene McDonald, USA/Malawi

Sometimes you must be corrupt to live, there is just no way out. Nigeria Government knows that.
Mustapha Bobbo, Nigeria

A director, the highest paid officer in the Nigerian civil service is paid about 66,000 Naira ($500) per month. However, this director is in-charge of a Billion Naira contract, what do you expect? That is the order of the day. The big corruption is at the top government level and the young ones follow suit. Sometimes you must be corrupt to live, there is just no way out. Nigeria Government knows that.
Mustapha Bobbo, Nigeria

How deep is corruption in Europe and America? Western countries and the BBC will want to make us to believe that corruption is only endemic in Africa. Big Lie!
Funsho Ade, Nigeria

Bribing is everywhere even in Western society. The worst thing is to have your right denied because of your race.
Sale, Canada

Why do all negative social issues appear as talking points on the Africa page? Bribery, domestic abuse, money for grades, abortion doctors threatened...we have countless examples of these things in the West: Enron, the abortion clinic bombings, and millions of cases of domestic abuse and spousal murder. The BBC seems to imply that under any social or economic circumstances, Westerners would always make morally superior choices. A German man recently went on trial for cannibalism, I'm sure if that had happened in Africa, it would have turned into a "talking point."
Beth, USA

Corruption has been institutionalised in Nigeria. If you don't take a bribe you are a fool. Honest people are called fools. In hospital people die because doctors steal drugs and sent them to their private hospitals. It is everywhere. Even those fighting corruption are corrupt.
George Onmonya Daniel, Nigeria

Corruption in Africa is far much deeper than Lake Chad.
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Zambia

Having established that corruption in Africa is far much deeper than Lake Chad itself, nobody is coming nearer to diagnosing or prescribing the remedy. The question here is what can we do about it? I refuse to agree with the argument that because people are poor or take four to six months before they get their salaries or wages then they should be corrupt. How about in a case where a head of state is nicked for corrupt practices, does it mean then that he too does not get paid? Isn't he richer than any citizen just three months after being sworn in?
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Zambia

If you think corruption is going to stop in Africa, think again. A police officer in Sierra Leone would tell his wife to place a pot of water on the cooking stove as he goes down to the traffic stop, and would surely come back with a bag of rice! So tell me, who will enforce the law, when the police are the very leaders in corruption?
Prince Kargbo, USA/Sierra Leone

Coming from a country that has had the dubious distinction as the most corrupt country in the world several times, (Cameroon), I must say that everyone complains, and everyone is an active participant. Because everyone is so desperate, the desire to get what one wants is so overwhelming that bribery seems the only way out. I think the only way out is to legalise it and have a ministry for it. You go there when you need anything, pay the asking price for that service, then take your receipt to where your business needs are.
Che, Sunday, Cameroon

Corruption in Africa is so deep rooted that if a person in the society decides to be honest and try to put things right you will be seen as a traitor and would ostracised. Most African Presidents and their ministers hardly earn up to $1000 as monthly salary but as a matter of fact, most of them are millionaires in dollars. It is so sad to note that most African countries that are so rich in natural resources are the very countries that are plunged into deep poverty, diseases and conflict. The root of it all is because of corruption.
Momoh Magona-Kallon, Canada

All that was on the African perspective program on Sunday about corruption in Cameroon was just the tip of the iceberg. A minute of delaying to give out a bribe or 'kompo', could cause your sick relative to die in hospital, cause your child who is cleaver to fail exams, business to delay and more. Employment is not on merit and those who get admitted in school are not the best. At this level of corruption I wonder what to propose as solution for this epidemic.
Nfor Hadison, Cameroon

I do not love my mother, so I let her bleed to death if she doesn't give me a bribe at the hospital.
Zumbi Musiba, Tanzania

It certainly starts with me! The problem is that as a Tanzanian, I don't love my country enough to want to make sacrifices for her. I do not love my mother, so I let her bleed to death if she doesn't give me a bribe at the hospital. I do not love my children, so I sell the clothes that have been donated to them free of charge. Worst of all I despise anyone that refuses to join me in my plunder and will not hesitate to kill him or her. I simply don't love my people.
Zumbi Musiba, Tanzania

The level of corruption described in Cameroon is going to be very difficult to eradicate because it has already affected people's mentality in such a way that dignity has no meaning to people. In order to fight corruption, I do believe that the government has first to give to people reasonable salaries, improve the condition of work and then take tough and strict measures.
Ntumba Kapinga, Harare, Zimbabwe

Since the late 1980s when the IMF and World Bank conditioned loans on good governance, most African states have perfected the art of corruption that today in Sierra Leone even though everybody talks about corruption like AIDS, it is hardly seen with naked eyes. All we know is that there is endemic corruption.
Henry Mbawa Jr, Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone

What we need to start doing is changing the mentality of Africans and this can only be tackled through education and training within the home. We need to focus on the younger generations. I suggest we start implementing courses about corruption and society in schools to educate people on the negative externalities corruption imposes on society and how we harm ourselves only by encouraging it. We need to train law enforcers who easily partake in corruption and most importantly we need to fight poverty.
Nana A. Amoah, Ghana/USA

Corruption has become the main branch on which the government is sitting.
Ted Mapri, Douala, Cameroon

I would like to heartily thank the BBC for the wonderful report on corruption in Cameroon on African Perspective last Sunday. It was an in depth look at a system that has transformed one of Africa's richest countries into a hopeless entity. Corruption has become the main branch on which the government is sitting and any attempt to fight it will signal the end of the regime. Many Cameroonians now consider bribery as the normal way of life.
Ted Mapri, Douala, Cameroon

The culture of corruption has eaten deep into the very foundation of the society in Africa generally and Nigeria in particular to such an extent that an average passenger in a commercial bus is tries to cheat the conductor who collects the money, the conductor in turn is tries to cheat the driver and the driver tries to cheat the owner of the bus. Before degenerating to this level however, it was limited to government officials.
Dauda, Nigeria

Ahhhh once again the dangerous weapon of corruption has been dropped for discussion; From Government to Business and even the "holiest" place - the church. Though it is a crime to give and receive a bribe in some most countries, it becomes part of normal life in the whole world. Self restriction and control could only be the solution.
Godwin Everyday Amevinya, Ghana

The huge challenge with corruption is the political set up that requires politicians to use politics as a means of personal enrichment. As long as politicians find it necessary to use public office to enrich themselves, corruption will not be resolved. The current attempts to tackle corruption are largely focussed on the past. More needs to be done to combat corruption in the present.
Rev. David Kashangaki, USA/Kenya

The main reason that fuels corruption in most parts of Africa is that it has been accepted as the norm. We do not want to wait for our turn, but pay our way to get services that are supposed to be free. Moreover, the belief that one can buy anything with money has fuelled corruption in all levels of life. The only way to stamp out corruption is to do a massive campaign like they are doing in Kenya and that would take some time to bear fruit.
Jacob Sax Conteh, Virginia, US

The origin of corruption in Africa is the government and big businesses. It was the ancient Africa leaders who started selling their children to slavery within Africa to Arab and Europeans. The same happens today in sophisticated ways. The big businesses or nations bribe the leaders to exploit their countries natural resources and trade, in some cases they overthrow governments by sponsoring coups and also assist rebel leaders. One of the ways ordinary people survive is through corruption itself.
Ayo, Nigeria

If corruption can exist among those who are supposed to fight, then we still have a long way to go.
Mukail Ajayi, Nigeria

How do you eradicate corruption? A different way to put it would be; how do you eradicate illiteracy and educate people on their rights under their government? Until this is achieved I really doubt that any single person or group can ever win over corruption.
Abdulkadir, Bahrain

According to Transparency International, Botswana is the least corrupt of the developing countries. About 20 years ago we were corruption free, but with growing wealth, corruption started to creep in. We have combated it though tools such as a free press which goes on to name and shame culprits by publishing front page photo with a headline such as "Is this man corrupt?" So how about a good news story on corruption in Africa?
David Inger Tsholofelo

The order of the day in Sierra Leone and the rest of Africa is bribery and corruption. There is nothing you do in Africa without bribing, hospitals, school, public places and everywhere. Police officers and judges are swayed by bribes. The only way you can stop this is by increasing salaries, for example in Sierra Leone salaries are not paid for three or four months, what do you do?
Alimamy Kheiyo-Sesay, Minnesota, US/Sierra Leone

The giver is equally as guilty as the receiver of the bribe.
Divine, Ifitedunu, Nigeria

The first step in fighting corruption is knowing that the giver is equally as guilty as the receiver of the bribe.
Divine, Ifitedunu, Nigeria

Dear BBC, this is a nice topic, but will they hear? Corruption is a cankerworm which has eaten deep into society. There is no way it can be stopped, at least for now. Who would stop it? Is it President Obasanjo or Vice President, Abubakar Atiku?
Prince Ibrahim, Nigeria

Corruption is rampant in Africa. It has driven skilled and talented Africans out of the continent. The law has also been twisted to selectively protect some officials, for instance, pardoning of convicted corrupt officials.
Pio Machipisa, Zimbabwe

As long as the masses are still ignorant of their rights, corrupt and opportunistic regimes are still there, political conflicts continue as well as poor education systems, corruption will remain in Africa.
Ronald Mugulusi, Uganda

Unfortunately, to be an African is to be corrupt, thus, our mindset is in dire need of immediate radical surgery. Instead of us fighting corruption we embrace it. Our leaders are the champions of corruption and the rest of us can hardly wait for our turn to plunder and exploit our national resources. Each African person must question their own personal stand on corruption before taking the fight to the national level.
George Kyalo Mutua, Kenya

Corruption in Africa streams up from the street sweepers, office messengers to the top. Sierra Leone's former president, Shiaka Stevens once said "Cow de eat you side they tie yam" - The Cow eats where it is tied. Sierra Leone like many of the African countries continues to reap the bad effects of corruption; rebel war, ethno-religious violence, election rigging, political assassinations, economic sabotage, brain drain, et cetera, et cetera. The prime question still remains-where do we go from here?
Matthias A. Idyu, US/Nigeria

The question is, why does anybody accept bribes in Africa?
Peter Tuach, Sudanese, USA

If you don't take bribe, you are referred to as "BORN AGAIN" Christian.
Ezeoke Tochukwu, Germany

In my country Nigeria, if you don't take bribe, you are referred to as "BORN AGAIN" Christian, which ought not to be the case. For example, if you go to a bank to withdraw money, you are likely to have the cashier, who also receives a salary, asking you for a kick back.
Ezeoke Tochukwu, Germany

After living in Kenya for 12 years, I came to perceive corruption as a normal part of everyday life. The problem was that too many people just accepted its inevitability while others decided they might as well bend the rules every now and then for selfish gain. While it is important for civilians to resist the temptation to bribe officials, I think it is up to public authorities like the police to refuse to abandon their duties no matter how much "compensation" they may receive.
Alem Berhane Kiflewahid, Ottawa, Canada

Much of corruption in Nigeria is done in government offices. Civil servants believe they are in privileged positions, so they demand bribes before they render service to the public. But it's all due to poverty. With very low salaries, the typical civil servant would need much more money to cater for their immediate family, extend a helping hand to ageing parents, pay school fees, high rents, etc. But the worst is that even rich people engage in corrupt practices. This is what cannot be clearly explained. But those who became rich through corrupt means cannot stop being corrupt because they live on it.
Theophilus Abbah, Nigeria




SEE ALSO:
Kenya bribes are growing bigger
17 May 04  |  Business



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