This fourth edition of the African Governance Report focuses on the importance of measuring corruption and of understanding its international dimensions. The report challenges the traditionally narrow notion of corruption as the “abuse of public office for private gain”. This definition places too much emphasis on public office and on the ostensible legality of the act, neglecting the corrupt tendencies prevalent in the private and non-State sectors. Policymakers must understand the importance and implications of viewing corruption as a broader phenomenon where private agents share significant responsibility.
The report implores all stakeholders to rethink corruption measurements in general, and in the African context in particular. There is ample evidence that the operations of foreign players on the continent are causing significant illicit financial outflows. Such omissions present serious gaps in current measurements.
African countries and partners need to move away from purely perception-based measures of corruption and focus instead on approaches to measuring corruption that are fact-based and built on more objective quantitative criteria. In the interim, perception-based methods anchored on more transparent and representative surveys should be used with caution and complemented, where possible, with quantitative country or case-specific indicators to produce more sophisticated and useful measures of corruption.