Africa: Corruption

I’ve been posting about Africa this week mostly because I find it interesting. My guess is most of my readers find the topic a bit dull. Never let it be said you are not getting your money’s worth here at The Z Blog. My interest is mostly anthropological. Africa has been populated by humans longer than anywhere on earth. More important, Africa has not changed a whole lot since modern man debuted on this planet.

Of course, there’s the fact that a billion Africans are sitting around their hut dreaming of life in your neighborhood. My guess is ten percent of them will make their way to Europe and the US over the next 25 years. I’m probably being conservative. The US political class would gladly take 100 million Africans tomorrow. Either way, it’s probably a good idea to get learn a bit about our soon to be fellow “citizens.’

In prior posts, I’ve highlighted the fact that Africa is poor, disease ridden and full of stupid, violent people. That’s not a great recipe for building a competent modern society. One of the great measures of a society is the corruption index. It’s a measure of social trust. Low trust societies cannot engage in complex social investment. High trust societies can create large-scale social institutions.

Here are the numbers for Africa. The lower the number the higher the corruption. As a touchstone, the Anglosphere is in the high 70’s.

Country Name Corruption Country Name Corruption
Algeria 36 Malawi 33
Angola 19 Mali 32
Benin 39 Mauritania 30
Botswana 63 Mauritius 52
Burkina Faso 38 Morocco 39
Burundi 20 Mozambique 31
Cameroon 27 Namibia 49
Cape Verde 57 Niger 35
Central African Republic 24 Nigeria 27
Chad 22 Republic of Sudan 11
Comoros 26 Republic of the Congo 23
DR of the Congo 22 Rwanda 49
Djibouti 34 São Tomé 42
Egypt 37 Senegal 43
Equatorial Guinea 19 Seychelles 55
Eritrea 18 Sierra Leone 31
Ethiopia 33 Somalia 8
Gabon 37 South Africa 44
Ghana 48 Sudan 11
Guinea 25 Swaziland 43
Guinea-Bissau 19 Tanzania 31
Ivory Coast 32 The Gambia 29
Kenya 25 Togo 29
Lesotho 49 Tunisia 40
Liberia 37 Uganda 26
Libya 18 Zambia 38
Madagascar 28 Zimbabwe 21

If you take a simple average, the typical African country is about as corrupt as Mexico. The difference is that Mexico is right next door to a giant economic power with a very high level of social trust. The typical African country is surrounded by countries that are bordering on anarchy. Place like Sudan and Somalia are in the state of nature.

If you are living in one of these countries, you cannot trust anyone from the state. Call the police and they will want a bribe or they will rob you. Go to court and the judge will demand a bribe from you and your opponent. Even if you pay, he may still rob you. The only thing you can really count on are your blood relations and even there the wise man is cautious.

Now, you talk to your cousin Tongo who is back visiting from France and you are going to think that maybe he has it great. The cops don’t ask for bribes. The government gives him free stuff. If someone steals his free stuff he can go to the authorities and they will try to get his stuff back. Even better, there are all sorts of “public” things that are magically maintained and they even work!

The problem is your new neighbors will most likely bring those old habits with them. Africa is a low-trust world because it is full of Africans. Transplant them to Sweden and they are not going to take up curling and start investing themselves in traditional Swedish social life. Europe and probably America is going to become much more African over the next 25 years.

4 thoughts on “Africa: Corruption

  1. I once worked with a guy originally from Argentina, who had left to avoid Pinochet’s draft, went to Italy, got a job with a multinational service provider, and as such spent the next twenty years working as a service tech in a variety of south and central american $hithole$. He defined corruption to me as “when you can’t even figure out who to bribe”.

  2. And I forgot. If you want to study what Africa could look like, look at the outlier, Botswana. In the 80’s, I had the opportunity to meet a settler who was an officer in their Army. In addition to having a great deal of tolerance, they have done some very smart things with regards to AIDS and crime.

  3. I often wonder if Europe circa 1200 AD was pretty much the same as Africa in term of intelligence. I also wonder if the waves of certain diseases and war didn’t significantly raise intelligence. Take syphilis for example. We know that self control and intelligence are highly correlated. Therefore, anyone who couldn’t keep his hose knotted or fly buttoned was much more likely to get the pox, infect his wife, and if he and she lived long enough, crank out a couple of short-lived, infected pups. The men who were smart enough to stay away from the fleshpots lived and reproduced. The duller men with less self-control, not so much.

    The whole Chinese fetish with shoes is probably similar. Your Asian tiger moms who would would scratch dad’s eyes out if he brought his shit-covered shoes inside the hut, probably increased the odds of survival of her kids substantially.

Comments are closed.