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News release

Amid rising corruption, most Africans say they risk retaliation if they speak up, new Afrobarometer Pan-Africa Profile reveals

6 Dec 2023
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News release
Key findings
  • On average across 39 countries, a majority (58%) of Africans say corruption increased “somewhat” or “a lot” in their country during the preceding year (Figure 1). Compared to 2014/2015, 12 countries recorded double-digit increases in perceptions of worsening corruption, including a surge of 39 percentage points in Senegal, while decreases reached a remarkable 61 points in Benin. More than two-thirds (68%) of citizens say “some” or “a lot” of the resources intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic were lost to corruption.
  • Almost half (46%) of Africans say that “most” or “all” police officials are corrupt, the worst rating among 11 institutions and leaders the survey asked about. Tax officials, civil servants, and officials in the Presidency tie for second-worst, at 38% (Figure 2).
  • Among citizens who sought selected public services during the previous year, substantial proportions say they had to pay a bribe to obtain police assistance (36%), to avoid problems with the police (37%), to get a government document (31%), or to receive services at a public medical facility (20%) or a public school (19%) (Figure 3). Self-reported bribe-paying varies widely across countries. For example, obtaining a government document required a bribe from 68% of applicants in Congo-Brazzaville, compared to 1% in Cabo Verde and Seychelles.
  • Two in three Africans (67%) say their government is doing a poor job of fighting corruption (Figure 4).
  • Only one in four Africans (26%) say people can report corruption to the authorities without fear of retaliation (Figure 5).

A majority of Africans say that corruption in their country is rising, that their government is failing in its efforts to fight it, and that ordinary citizens risk retaliation if they report corruption to the authorities, Afrobarometer’s latest Pan-Africa Profile reveals.

Released ahead of International Anti-Corruption Day (9 December), the Afrobarometer report is based on nationally representative surveys in 39 African countries.

Findings show that among key public institutions, the police are most widely perceived as corrupt. In substantial numbers, citizens report having to pay bribes to obtain police assistance or avoid problems with the police, as well as to get government documents and services at health facilities and schools.

Citizens’ assessments vary widely across countries, with Gabon, South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia, and Uganda among the worst-performing countries when it comes to perceived corruption in key public institutions, while Seychelles, Cabo Verde, Tanzania, and Mauritius turn in the best performances.