Are you looking for the most corrupt countries in Africa? Corruption is a huge problem in many African countries, undermining economic and social development and threatening the security of citizens.
It’s no secret that corruption is a major challenge in the continent. From bribery and political interference to embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, and even outright fraud, Africa continues to be plagued by political and economic wrongdoing.
In this article, we’ll look at 12 of the most corrupt countries in Africa in 2023. We’ll also take a look at some of the possible causes of corruption in these countries.
12 Most Corrupt Countries In Africa
Africa is home to a diverse mix of cultures and countries, but sadly, it’s also the most corrupt continent in the world. To highlight this issue, we’ve prepared a list of the 12 most corrupt countries in Africa.
It’s important to note that corruption doesn’t simply refer to financial crime or bribery; it is an umbrella term that covers all activities that seek to undermine the rule of law or ethical behavior. So whether it’s bribes accepted by governments or powerful individuals or activities such as nepotism, fraud, and tax evasion, all these activities can be considered corrupt and contribute to Africa’s overall corruption ranking.
The list below contains the 12 nations which have been ranked as having the highest levels of corruption in Africa:
- South Sudan
- Equatorial Guinea
- Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)
- The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)
South Sudan is an African country that, unfortunately, tops many lists of the most corrupt countries. The 2020 Index of Economic Freedom report ranks it as one of the least free, with a score of 25.3 out of 100.
The government has been mired in graft and abuses of power since its independence from Sudan in 2011 when it was deemed Africa’s newest nation. Corruption is endemic and deeply entrenched in the political system, with public money often being used to line the pockets of politicians and officials at every level of government. The oil sector also remains rife with accusations of misappropriation and bribery, as well as a lack of transparency in its operation.
In 2018, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights stated that corruption was “systematic” throughout South Sudan and that criminal networks were active at all levels of government. As a result, the country ranks near the bottom in terms of economic development, with nearly half its population living in extreme poverty due to pervasive corruption.
One of the most corrupt countries in Africa is Somalia. This corruption has been further exacerbated by the fragile security situation in the country, as well as decades of civil war and instability. Corruption can be found at all levels of government, from local officials to higher-level decision-makers.
Here’s a look at some of the issues that have caused Somalia to rank as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa:
- Lack of oversight and accountability: Somalia lacks any kind of effective oversight or accountability mechanisms within its government, leading to cases of rampant misappropriation and embezzlement.
- Widespread bribery: Bribery and influence peddling are common practices in Somalia due to the weak rule of law and lack of enforcement.
- Political interference: Political interference from powerful individuals and groups has caused corruption to persist as these actors are often above the law.
- Weak governance institutions: Somalia has weak governance institutions that cannot effectively address corruption due to inadequate resources and capacity.
- Lack of transparency: Transparency is lacking in almost all aspects of governance in Somalia, including decisions about resource allocations, public funds, contracts awarded for services, and public appointments made by officials.
Coming in at the third spot on our list of most corrupt countries in Africa is Libya. It’s no surprise that this war-torn country has seen some of the lowest levels of corruption in its government and business operations over the past few decades. According to Transparency International, Libya is one of the most corrupt countries in Africa, with a CPI score of 17 out of 100 (0 being very corrupt and 100 being very clean).
Libya has been plagued with civil unrest since 2011 and has been stifled by legislative and executive corruption since then. The lack of a stable government has left public services such as education, health care, and infrastructure highly vulnerable. Corruption is rampant in almost all aspects of the government, from bribery to fraud to nepotism. While there are some attempts at combating corruption in Libya, it’s still a major issue that needs to be addressed if Libya is going to have any chance at becoming a prosperous nation again.
When it comes to the most corrupt countries in Africa, Equatorial Guinea is near the top of the list. This is a small but oil-rich country located on the west coast of Africa, with a reported GDP (PPP) per capita of $36,571.
The corruption in Equatorial Guinea can be attributed to its lack of transparency, its unequal distribution of wealth, and its weak rule of law. The country’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has been ruling since 1979 and is accused of human rights violations, patronage, and money laundering.
Corruption in Equatorial Guinea has been pervasive throughout both public and private sectors. From nepotism to bribery and extortion, government officials have taken advantage of their power to enrich themselves at the expense of the citizens.
The World Bank has noted that corruption has cost this oil-rich nation hundreds of millions of dollars each year. This money could have easily been used for vital services such as health care, education, and infrastructure development. Unfortunately, due to mismanagement and corruption, these resources are never being utilized for their intended purpose.
Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)
One of the most corrupt countries in Africa is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC is currently ranked 164 out of 180 on the World Corruption Perception Index, and it suffers from a lack of transparency in its government and public sector. This corruption has serious consequences for the citizens of DRC, including:
- The perpetuation of poverty: due to illicit financial flows and other forms of corruption in the public sector, funds that could be used to help alleviate poverty are siphoned off or otherwise misused.
- Reduced access to education and health care: corruption within the Congolese government has led to a lack of investment in basic services such as education and health care, which compounds existing economic hardship.
- A history of human rights abuses: due to weak oversight, there have been numerous reports of human rights abuses by officials in the DRC’s security forces, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances.
It is clear that corruption issues remain a serious problem in the DRC, but recent efforts by civil society groups to combat this culture have shown promise for a brighter future for those living in this country.
Another African country that is widely considered to be highly corrupt is Burundi. In 2019, its ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) was only 1.4 out of 10. The CPI score is an evaluation of public-sector corruption, and it does not reflect the scale of private-sector corruption.
The country’s endemic corruption has been attributed to its weak institutions, lack of resources, political instability, and lack of transparency in government operations. There have also been reports of government officials engaging in bribery and abuse of power for personal gain.
Most recently, the government has been accused of using the military to suppress civil unrest and intimidate political opponents. Furthermore, the government has failed to take steps to curb impunity among security forces, leading to a spike in human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and torture.
The Burundian authorities have also made efforts to weaken civil society as an obstacle to accountability and good governance by introducing a number of restrictive laws which stifle freedom of speech and freedom of association in the country. These measures have effectively silenced civil society organizations trying to raise awareness around state-level corruption in Burundi.
If you’re wondering which countries in Africa are the most corrupt, look no further than Sudan. The country has been plagued with a corrupt government and widespread bribery for years. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranks Sudan as the 7th most corrupt among African countries.
The reasons for corruption in Sudan are multifaceted. In particular, poor governance and weak rule of law have been identified as major contributing factors. Additionally, there is a lack of capacity to manage public finances and resources, leading to mismanagement and misuse of government funds. Furthermore, conflict and instability have inhibited proper oversight of governmental activities, creating an environment where corruption thrives.
The effects of corruption in Sudan are dire, leading to decreased trust in government institutions, increased income inequality, and an overall decrease in the quality of life. These issues have become deeply entrenched within the society at large, making it increasingly difficult to address them effectively. The challenge now is to develop viable strategies that can help combat these systemic issues and promote greater accountability within the country’s governmental structure.
Coming in at number eight in our list of the most corrupt countries in Africa is Guinea-Bissau. This West African nation has been described as a “failed state,” plagued by cycles of political instability and corruption.
The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2018 ranks Guinea-Bissau near the bottom among African countries, with a score of 18 out of 100 indicating high levels of public sector corruption. The political scene is dominated by two powerful families who are locked into a perpetual power struggle, leading to frequent coup attempts and assassinations.
The social and economic conditions are quite poor, with high levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. Lack of access to quality education and healthcare further exacerbates the country’s dire social situation, while endemic corruption further hinders development efforts.
Compounding the problem is the fact that Guinea-Bissau’s economy is heavily dependent on its fisheries sector, yet rampant mismanagement has caused depleted fish stocks and heavy losses to foreign fleets who illegally fish its waters with impunity. This not only weakens the economy but also detracts from job creation opportunities for local fishermen opportunities that could help reduce the country’s economic reliance on corruption for survival.
The ninth most corrupt country in Africa is Chad, according to Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index.
Chad is a country in Central Africa that has been plagued by corruption for decades. The lack of economic growth, poverty, and instability have all contributed to the culture of corruption in the country.
The main issue appears to be a lack of trust between government and citizens. Citizens don’t trust their own government, and government officials don’t trust those that they govern. This leads to a breakdown in accountability and the acceptance of bribery, embezzlement, and other forms of corruption.
Corruption is seen in many areas, including education, health care, law enforcement, taxation, and public procurement. Public funds are routinely misused and siphoned off by government officials for their own personal gain, while vital services such as roads and hospitals suffer from neglect.
This leaves the citizens of Chad unable to access basic services or compete on an even playing field with other countries. It’s clear that solving the issues of corruption in Chad will require not only better laws but also a change in attitudes towards bribery, patronage, and other forms of malfeasance on both sides of the equation from citizens to government officials if any meaningful progress is to be made.
Coming in at the 10 spot on our list is Zimbabwe, a country that has been plagued with corruption for years. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Zimbabwe is one of the most corrupt countries in Africa. This index ranks countries around the world based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. In 2018, Zimbabwe scored 19 out of 100, making it one of the more corrupt countries in Africa.
The political situation in Zimbabwe has been filled with turmoil and tension for many years. This tension has caused instability and weakened institutions paving the way for corruption to fester and grow. From political violence and intimidation to illegal practices by government officials and members of civil society, corruption is rampant in Zimbabwe.
Ultimately, corruption has been an ongoing problem plaguing Zimbabwe for decades, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. With a weak rule of law and an inefficient judicial system, it will be difficult to combat corruption in the near future.
The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)
The 11th on our list is Congo-Brazzaville. This country has been plagued for many years by corruption, coupled with political instability and poverty. In the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, The Republic of the Congo was rated as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa with a score of 14 out of 100, with zero being highly corrupt and 100 being very clean.
In The Republic of the Congo, bribery is rampant within the government, from top-level bureaucrats to ministers and more; this type of behavior has eroded public trust in the government and has caused major financial losses for citizens.
The most common form of corruption in Congo-Brazzaville is embezzlement; this includes public funds being diverted through fraudulent schemes or through mismanagement. This means that citizens are left without vital services that they need, such as healthcare and education.
The lack of enforced anti-corruption laws in Congo allows those in power to remain wealthy and unaccountable for their actions. This creates a cycle of poverty that impacts the entire country on economic and social levels.
In 12th place is Eritrea, a small country located in the Horn of Africa. It is considered one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes, and its human rights abuses have been well documented. According to Transparency International, Eritrea has consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa, with an index score of 17 out of 100 in 2019.
Despite being a relatively small country with just about 3.6 million people, Eritrea has been plagued by widespread corruption for years. This ranges from bribery, money laundering, and illegal exploitation of natural resources to government control over economic activities and a lack of accountability for public funds.
The country’s illicit activities are largely perpetrated by those in power, particularly members of the ruling party and military leaders. This creates a culture where there is little transparency and accountability. As such, many citizens suffer from poverty, and impunity for those who commit crimes remains an issue.
Overall, Eritrea continues to be plagued by its deteriorating economy due to high levels of corruption and human rights abuses. Until these issues are addressed and resolved, it will remain one of the most corrupt countries in Africa.
Corruption is an issue that plagues the African continent and impacts people’s lives in a very real way. It is an issue that transcends borders, cultures, and socio-economic divides and harms everyone it touches.
The scale of corruption across African countries can vary significantly, with some countries ranking much higher on the list of most corrupt countries than others. Unfortunately, this widespread corruption has had far-reaching impacts on the continent’s development, with the effects being felt in multiple sectors.
The corruption index for African countries should be taken seriously, and more efforts should be made to address the issue head-on. By doing so, African countries can improve their chances of achieving stability and economic growth.