October 18, 2005

Africa worst offender on world corruption list

By Andrew Cawthorne

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Africa is the most corrupt continent in
the world, with Chad the worst offender and Botswana its
cleanest nation, a survey said on Tuesday.

The Transparency International watchdog said that out of 44
African nations covered in its 2005 Corruption Perceptions
Index (CPI), 31 scored less than three -- "a sign of rampant
corruption" -- on a scale of zero to ten.

"Africa is the continent with the lowest average in the
CPI," it added, confirming widespread perceptions that the
world's poorest continent is also its most graft-ridden.

Topping an expanded list on Africa this year as the most
corrupt nation in the continent -- and the world -- was Chad.

It was followed by Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory
Coast, all with scores of under two.

The continent's least corrupt nation was Botswana, with a
score of 5.9, followed by Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia and

The list is closely watched by an international community
that is increasingly impatient for improved governance and less
corruption in Africa in return for aid and debt relief.

Regional expert Richard Dowden noted that three of the four
African countries scoring worst were oil producers, meaning it
was not only locals involved in the kickback trade.

"We shouldn't just shrug our shoulders at this. Western oil
companies should be held to account as well," Dowden, director
of the British-based Royal African Society, told Reuters.

But the main responsibility was among Africa's ruling
elites, he added. "The prime changes have to happen in Africa
itself but it does seem to be getting worse."


Transparency International, which bases the list on
perceptions of businessmen and analysts, urged the government
of President Idriss Deby in Chad to follow up reports of graft.

"The country is marked by political instability, human
rights abuses and weak press freedom," it added.

Despite its poor showing, Nigeria was singled out as
Africa's most improved state, up from 1.6 in 2004 to 1.9 now,
thanks to a re-energized government anti-corruption campaign.

At the launch of the index in London, the watchdog's chief
executive David Nussbaum said Nigeria's case showed the
anti-graft war was "a long haul, not a quick silver bullet

"It is encouraging that a poor and developing country can
change its score and its ranking in our index," he told

The index was released simultaneously in various capitals
around the world, including Nairobi.

Burundi and Liberia figured in the list for the first time,
with low scores of 2.3 and 2.2 respectively reflecting their
civil wars, Transparency International said.

"In the absence of real peace and security, the fight
against corruption is an enormous challenge," the report added.

Kenya, which has been lashed for tolerating corruption by
former colonial power Britain and superpower the United States,
had an unchanged score of 2.1, ranking it one of the worst in
Africa and a dismal 144th of 158 nations around the globe.

"Unresolved procurement scandals involving top level public
officials and the potential loss of billions of shillings
could, if unsatisfactorily addressed, reverse any prospect of
progress in improving our CPI score," said Mwalimu Mati,
executive director of Transparency International in Kenya.

(Additional reporting by Gideon Long in London and Guled
Mohamed in Nairobi)