1 in 5 Africans forced to pay bribes for police, health care, education: report

Almost one in five Africans were
forced to pay a bribe in the past year
just to get basic public services, a
major survey said Thursday.
In Sierra Leone -- the worst affected
country -- almost two thirds of people
said they had given money to public
officials for permits, access to health
care and school, according to the "Let
the People Have Their Say" report
by Afrobarometer . Morocco, Guinea
and Kenya were close behind.
To compile the report, Afrobarometer
surveyed 51,000 Africans across 34
countries.
The institution rated most corrupt
across the whole continent was the
police. Alex Vines, head of the Africa
Program at Chatham House, said the
figures displayed a policing "crisis" in
Africa. Nigeria, Kenya and Sierra Leone
rated the worst for police corruption.
“If you were to take a group of young
people in Africa and say, ‘Someone has
burgled your house,’ the majority
would not phone the police," he said.
"They would rather go to someone else
they might know who could sort it out.
“Policing across much of Africa is in
crisis. So you get informal police forces
in place of the official ones which
aren’t doing their job. Vigilante policing
provides the protection that the police
fail to do.”
In terms of dealing with corruption,
the Nigerian and Egyptian governments
came out worst in the survey, with 82
percent of people saying it was doing a
"fairly bad, or very bad" job tackling
the problem.
Bribery was said to be least
problematic in Namibia, Mauritius,
Cape Verde and Botswana, with
between just 4 and 6 percent of
people in those countries reporting
paying a bribe in the past year.
Although market economies are
booming in countries such as Kenya,
prompted by oil and gas finds,
according to the report endemic
corruption has a crippling effect on
wealth equality and the poor.
It also said that corruption appeared
to be bad for democracy, with people
who said their country was corrupt
also reporting their governments were
undemocratic.
"The research suggests African
governments need to step up their
efforts to curb corruption, in the
interests of both reducing poverty and
advancing democracy," the report
said.