The Good in Corruption

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CORRUPTION

Are there times when being corrupt seems like the necessary thing to do?

Corruption is unanimously seen as a disease that continues to damage the organs of society, undermine legal authority and empirically seen to have a negative impact on economic growth. Any one seen to be engaging in such practices is endorsing illegal activities.

However, is it right to criminalise every individual who is involved in corruption?

A country that operates under poor legal framework, coupled with inefficiencies in the public sector does not provide the ideal conditions to undergo legal business operations.

It is no coincidence that one may be more inclined to bribe in order to bypass these inadequacies. Bribery becomes a significant tool in speeding up processes that may have otherwise been held up due to poor administrative structures. This means business operations can still run, ultimately boosting growth in the economy.

Without this, relying on weak governance to administer tasks, could lead to an economy that is unable to perform. In this context, bribery can be used at the very least to salvage failures created by governments.

Corruptive practices are the lesser of two evils in this circumstance, and dare I say could be a significant part in fuelling economic growth.

Lets take a walk to Chad…

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Source : African Footprint Research

A country located in central Africa, with a population of about 11 million people, faced with extreme poverty, and with a legal system that is unable to deal with the ever-changing economic landscape. Corruption is widespread, and has been publicised to be one of the highest corrupt nations in the world.

chad map

Yet despite this, in the last five years, Chad has on average 6.0% GDP growth, far greater than one can say for many western economies. For such a corrupt nation, Chad is doing fairly well in disguising the poor structural environment.

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Coming from the back of a civil war which lasted between 2005 – 2010, much of the emotional and physical scars still remain to be prominent in the country.  The next challenge for nations like Chad is to ensure that the fundamentals are put back into place to ensure that positive economic growth can not only be sustained but be a large contributor towards alleviating poverty and reducing unemployment.

It is important to understand that this viewpoint does not advocate corruption as best practice, but does at the very least recognise that it is most prevalent in countries that face extreme systematic failures where there are very little alternatives available.  Providing that the appropriate structures are in place, then one can be able to distinguish the real criminals who are only set to disregard the rule of law and those who only engage in corruption as there are no other option.

Until then,

Doing the wrong thing sometimes isn’t doing the wrong thing…

Corruption or Culture?

 corruption

What is Corruption ?

Corruption is often defined as the “misuse of entrusted power for private gain”; a complete undermine of any rule of law framework that has been put into place to promote legal formalities.

Transparency International is an organisation set up in 1993, to promote transparency amongst public officials who are appointed to carry out duties on behalf of the public.

One of the ways in which it demonstrates this is via their publication of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which started in 1995. They rank nations in how corrupt a country is perceived to be.

Easy Right?

Well one of the major issues with this publication is the subjective nature of corruption.

The concept of corruption differs across the world, whether you are from a small village in Sierra Leone or from a city such as London.

So, what is the key to the varying perspective?

CULTURE

Culture provides social norms and values, and this varies across the world, ultimately altering attitudes towards how businesses ought to be conducted. Offering money to bypass government inefficiencies in order to speed up decision-making can be considered normal practice in one nation but labeled bribery in another.

This leads to the question, is it really corruption or is it culture?

If one can agree that culture plays an influential role in defining ones morals and values, then under who’s perception does organisation’s such as Transparency International form its judgment in regards to the level of perceived corruption?

Quick Fact.

There are 54 countries that form the African Continent.

Between 2009-2013, only 4 countries on average in the Continent managed to be included in the top-50 least perceived corrupt.

Question Time…

Does the large representation of the west in the top 50 give an indication as to whose ideology dominates Transparency International?

And if so, is Africa a victim of a publication that fail to acknowledge possible culture clashes?

In order to move forward from this, it is imperative we acknowledge the importance of culture but highlight the fact that there must be room where culture falls within the scope that encourages ethical behaviour.

This is where the role of global leaders and influential people become critical in redefining what is right and wrong.

In our follow up we will discuss corruption at another glance, and discuss whether any good can come from it.

Who Knows Africa?

African footprint logo

Before one indulges in the economic issues that surround the continent, and the opportunities and threats that are visible in the short and long term, it is paramount that the first post is dedicated in exploring what Africa is, and what it has to offer.

So What do we know ?

Although the term Africa is often used as one item, it is important to not treat the issues of the continent as homogeneous. Africa is one continent but just like the number of playing cards in a deck, there are 54 countries that make up Africa, each with an separate identity that somewhat differs from one another. Out of the 54 countries, 52 were colonised by foreign countries which included France, Portugal and England.

Adding to this, Africa consists of approximately

  • 2000 spoken languages, a remarkable accolade that demonstrates such large-scale diversity. People have different traditions in relation to their native language, and ultimately have a different outlook on life.
  • 1.1BN people in Africa, roughly about the size of Europe and the US combined, and is forecast to continue growing at an alarming rate.  1 in 6 are Africans!
  • Half of the population are under 25, which has led to the calling of Africa being the home for the young.  Who said young people can’t rule the world?

Again, some of Africa’s problem lies with the fact that it is often treated as one of the same.  Olu’s cultural influences in relation to his country, Nigeria, will vastly differ from Samir in Morocco, and so there are limited room for comparison aside from that they are both Africans. Breaking down Africa into sub regions gives a better reading in discovering what issues are worth talking about, otherwise one will not be able to fully understand the dynamics of the continent.

The Last Frontier…

The African continent boasts of one of the most sought after riches that the world has to offer in resources, and is widely seen as the continent that has yet to fully unlock the rewards that it has long been promised.

Often described as the last frontier of the world, there is strong indication from the emergence of countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, that something is working, and it is crucial that efforts are made to continually improve economic conditions.

There is no better time in discussing the issues Africa has to address in order to move forward.

Ignore Africa at your peril..