According to the World Bank, corruption costs Africa $148 billion each year. Africa is home to some of the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International (TI). Corruption funnels much needed monies away from desperately needed education, health care and socioeconomic development to the pockets of greedy politicians and government officials keeping the majority of Africans mired in poverty.
The African Union and the United Nations sponsored an anti-corruption conference in Johannesburg, South Africa earlier this week. Whether the attendees paid lip service to tackling corruption remains to be seen, but at least they are acknowledging it exists. In a bizarre story that could only happen in Africa, one of the attendees was fired for corruption. Zambian land minister Gladys Nyirango was quoted in the Mail & Guardian online as saying "Corruption is everywhere -- in the villages, wherever". Hours later she was fired by Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa for awarding land plots to family members.
In spite of this incident, the level of corruption in Zambia is mild compared to other African nations; it only ranks as the 43rd most corrupt according to TI's 2006 report. Guinea ranks as the fourth most corrupt country behind Haiti, Myanmar and Iraq and holds the title for the corrupt nation on the continent. Other African nations in the top ten include Sudan (5th), Democratic Republic of Congo (6th), Chad (7th) and Equitorial Guinea (10th).
The irony here is that the countries that rank the highest in corruption are also plagued by civil war, social unrest and political upheaval.