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Corruption has become a major political, policy and advocacy issue that presents major challenges for research. It is at the heart of academic and policy discussions on governance, development and aid, and features prominently in most governance monitoring indexes. In some strands of the academic literature on African politics and development, corruption is presented as a key aspect of the patronage system that is said to be the dominant trait of African politics. Yet corruption is a worldwide phenomenon about which the most widely held view in conventional development discourse is that it has an overall corrosive effect on national and regional development as it undermines state capacity and the efficient delivery of public goods and services. Corruption is also widely recognised across the board by citizens of Africa and by civil society activists, policy makers in government, the private sector, sub-regional and regional organisations, and donors as a major problem. Corrupt practices and problems of accountability also exist in civil society organisations and in the private sector. Besides, corruption is a problem which, both in the short-term and over the long-run, has a potentiality to destabilise and discredit the democratic project. There is therefore a need for the costs of corruption on the lives and livelihoods of the citizenry and its consequence for the accumulation of national wealth and well-being to be properly documented.
Many African countries score poorly in all governance indexes that include corruption as a measure. Within African countries themselves, the citizens rank corruption very high up in their list of the core impediments to national and sub-regional development and progress. Governments have come under domestic and external pressure to take measures to contain corruption and corrupt practices. All over the continent, various types of anti-corruption commissions and agencies have been established with varying jurisdictions and mandates. Public campaigns, mostly through the media, have also been mounted to exhort the citizenry to join in the official fight that has been declared against corruption. The effectiveness of the anti-corruption agencies and campaigns has itself been a subject of broad governance interest across Africa. Overall, there is a broad consensus that much more effort needs to be deployed by governments to fight corruption successfully.
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