Sub-Saharan Africa (Corruption and the Economy)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:12 pm on 1st July 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 7:12 pm, 1st July 2015

Co-operation between the two Departments is obviously critical. Indeed, the Government as a whole must focus on the need to bear down on corruption where it exists, whether here or anywhere else in the world.

One of the problems is that very little effort appears to have been devoted to ensuring that institution building is carried out by donors who too often prefer to focus on the sexier aspects of development, such as education and health—funding areas that are, in any event, losing more money than they are receiving because of the corruption that pervades the region. So it is, although he may not know it, that the Minister is funding education programmes which pay teachers who do not exist; so it is that he is paying for the planting of crops which cannot grow in soil that cannot be maintained; and so it is that he funds programmes as a result of which money routinely finds itself in the hands of the governing class, despite the best efforts of those in his Department who work so hard to ensure that that does not happen.

Unless and until there is an unrelenting focus on changing the institutional environment throughout sub-Saharan Africa, which at present there is not, very little will change. As Dr John Mukum Mbaku argued in his 2007 book on corruption in Africa,

“the institutional environment, not cultural norms, determine a society’s propensity to engage in corruption and other forms of opportunism ...The incentive structures that a country’s market participants face—which are determined by the country’s institutional arrangements, may create opportunities for corruption and provide an environment in which even honest and highly ethical individuals may be forced to engage in corrupt activities in order to survive. Such perverse incentive structures can be changed or modified through democratic constitutional reforms.”