Bribery to get public services is increasing in parts of Africa

Bribery by any name — gift, pot- de-vin, kitu kidogo … — is money out of our pockets, and quite a few people are shelling out. According to Afrobarometer research institute, half of all Ugandans, Cameroonians, Sierra Leoneans and Guineans say they paid at least one bribe in the past year to get a basic public service from a school, health clinic or state documents office or to get help from or avoid a problem with the police.

Across 33 countries, almost three in 10 respondents (28%) said they had paid a bribe. That’s 28% of all adults, not just of those who tried to get those services. And since Afrobarometer only asked about selected services, the total across all public services is probably higher.

The poorest group of respondents was twice as likely (35%) as the wealthiest (17%) to have paid a bribe for services, according to Afrobarometer.

The problem is getting worse. Across 30 countries where Afrobarometer has data dating back to 2014-15, the proportion of people who paid a bribe for one of these services has increased from 16% to 28%. 

Only two countries – Morocco and Sudan – report lower levels of corruption, while 20 countries report increases of 10 percentage points or more.
Even some paragons of anti-corruption are falling — in Botswana and Mauritius, 0% reported paying bribes in 2014-15, but 9% and 8%, respectively, say they paid in 2019-21. They’re still among the best performers, along with Cabo Verde (3%) and Namibia (7%). — The Continent

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The Continent
The Continent is a free weekly newspaper published by the Adamela Trust in partnership with the Mail & Guardian.

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