Growing more corrupt
Africa’s economy has grown much faster since 2000, but fears regarding corruption have risen too. Africa’s average score on Transparency International’s Corruptions Perceptions Index has fallen steadily since 2000, reaching a new low of 2.75—out of a possible ten—in 2008. Of the 47 Sub-Saharan countries ranked in the 2008 survey, 64% score less than three out of ten, a level that, according to Transparency International, indicates "rampant corruption". Another 14 scored between three and five, indicating that corruption is perceived as a "serious challenge by country experts and businessmen". Just three states—Botswana, Cape Verde and Mauritius—score above the index’s mid-point. […]
Southern African states such as Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa and Namibia top the table, while resource-rich nations, especially oil exporters (Sudan, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Congo and Nigeria), cluster around the bottom. What this means is that, in recent years especially, economic growth has not been correlated with low levels of corruption.
The China factor
It is also significant that China has concentrated its aid and investment in nations such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Sudan, where corruption is (or has been) high. This means that it is no longer possible to argue that corruption deters foreign direct investment. All of which is bad news for reform-minded agencies like the OECD, IMF and World Bank. They will probably seize on Nigeria—an apparently startling example of reduced corruption in Africa—to justify their arguments that low corruption is good for growth and investment, but the regional figures suggest otherwise.
Mapping Chinese development assistance in Africa: a synthesis analysis of Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe
The Sino –Africa idea by China seems to be driven by the need for new markets and investment opportunities, resource security, the need for symbolic diplomacy, development assistance, co-operation, and a need to forge strategic partnerships in Africa. For most African countries, China seems to be an alternative to the Western economic prescriptions that are marked by aid conditionalities and foreign interference that threatens national sovereignty. China’s non-interference policy on governance and human rights issues is an attractive factor. However, being indebted to China over the long term raises questions about how accountable and transparent the cooperation is.