CORRUPTION in Africa is declining as potential bribers realise it is bad for business, one of the continent’s richest businessmen said on Monday.
Sudanese telecoms entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim said booming commodity prices and
new leadership were ushering in new growth and the Western world risked ignoring a new era in Africa.
“I think we are turning a corner,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an African investment conference in London.
“For the first time, we are getting a reasonable price for commodities. At the same time, you are seeing a clear improvement in the standard of governance in Africa.”
Ibrahim, who sponsors a new US$5 million prize for African leadership given this year to former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano, said the commodities price rise was primarily due to growth in China and India.
The improved governance came from a new generation of leaders coupled with a more vocal civil society unwilling to watch their leaders get rich for nothing.
Investors had also realised that fostering corruption cost money in the long term, he said, adding that he had never felt tempted to bribe his way forward.
“The problem with greasing palms is that once you start it never ends,” he said. “You always have to bribe another minister. The regime changes for next year and you have to do it all again. It just erodes your bottom line.”
Once people realise you do not give bribes, they stop expecting them, he said.
Ibrahim said his US$5 million prize — the largest single prize of its kind in the world, several times a Nobel Prize — was aimed at promoting greater leadership and transparency.
He said the outside world tended to concentrate much more on bad news in Africa than on good, and African leaders such as Chissano — who stood aside after leading his country to peace and democracy after years of civil war — were not well known.
“You have limited space for Africa and so you only run two stories,” he said. “Every man, woman and child in Europe knows who (President Robert) Mugabe is but who has heard of Chissano?” — Reuters.