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The fight against corruption

The 2023 Corruption Perception Index produced by Transparency International is out.

This is an index that measures the perceived level of corruption in the public sector and draws on data from thirteen different sources.

All these sources are used to calculate an aggregate score for countries.

Each country gets a score ranging from a low of zero to a high of 100,an overall rank among all the countries assessed,and a rank among its regional peers.

The comprehensive exercise is done by a group of experts – business persons and academics. 

Before delving into Ghana’s performance,here are a few highlights from the report for context -

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1.Sub-Saharan Africa emerged as the region with the lowest average score.

2.The scores of 28 countries improved,that of 34 declined,and that of 118 countries remained unchanged.

3 Ninety per cent (90%) of countries in sub-Saharan Africa scored below 50.

4.The average score for countries classified by the Economic Intelligence Unit as full democracies scored an average of 73; flawed democracies scored an average of 48; and nondemocratic countries scored an average of 32.

These highlights suggest that a) well-functioning democracies fight corruption better; b) the majority of countries in the world are struggling to fight corruption; and c) Sub-Saharan Africa continues to emerge as a region with very high corruption. How did Ghana perform?

Ghana scored 43 out of the possible one hundred points (43/100); ranked seventieth globally (70/180); and eighth regionally in sub-Saharan Africa (8/49). Here is how Ghana has performed historically on the index since 2012.

Table 1: 2012-2023 Making sense of Ghana’s score 

Ghana’s score has remained unchanged over the last four years.

We have neither improved nor deteriorated but an unchanged score signals that efforts or lack thereof to fight corruption are not yielding the desired results.

The unchanged scores though should not come as a big surprise if one examines how the country has fared on other governance instruments and indexes on the question of corruption.

In the most recent Afrobarometer survey (Round 9,2022),Ghanaians said the following about corruption

Table 2: 2022

In addition to what the Afrobarometer survey captured,the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance on one of its sub-indicators -AntiCorruption Mechanisms- had Ghana’s score at 57 per cent in 2012,only for the score to drop to 44 per cent in 2021.

Our anti-corruption efforts still require a lot of work.

Implications for the 2024 elections

How important is fighting corruption to Ghanaians?

Corruption as an important problem during the first four iterations of the Afrobarometer survey saw no more than two per cent of Ghanaians ranking it high as an important problem in comparison to other problems.

It did not even feature among the top ten important problems.

By 2012 though,it had moved up higher and is currently among the top six important problems.

Table 2 – 2014-2022

Late in 2022,I wrote this – “Certain problems, including unemployment, management of the economy, and education consistently remain priorities for Ghanaians.

These notwithstanding,the importance of corruption as a problem as weighed against others has slowly risen from the first time the question was asked.”

A stalled score,negative perceptions of corruption,and a growing ranking of corruption as an important problem are all the signals candidates need to
make fighting corruption in government,a key election issue.

Every election cycle comes with pledges of commitment to the fight against corruption,promises of increased resources for anti-corruption agencies,creation of additional
corruption-fighting institutions, etc.

I reckon the importance of these as critical tools in the fight against corruption.

However,these tools are not helping us move the needle much according to these indices that measure corruption.

For our scores and the negative perceptions to improve significantly, candidates must offer something different,and whoever wins must deploy the anti-corruption tools
differently.

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