31.03.2021 Opinion

Foreign Aid and corruption in Africa

By Prinston Nimene
Foreign Aid and corruption in Africa
31.03.2021 LISTEN

Foreign Aid

African countries have been receiving FOREIGN AID since independence for the past 60years, and Africa is yet to be developed or self-reliant. Since 1970, the world has spent over five trillion dollars in aid. Much of that money has come to Africa. Helping Africa is a noble cause, but the campaign has become a theater of rampage corruption, and abuse of power.

The Marshall Plan was an American initiative passed in 1948 for foreign aid to Western Europe. The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-torn regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, improve European prosperity. However, it hasn't been the case in Africa. Foreign Aid has contributed to corruption in Africa through the large amounts of money that are sent over, and exploitation of resources.

The money that floods into Africa come not only from individual government-to-government aid programs, but also international partners such as the World Bank, WTO, and the IMF, which act as an intermediate between the donor governments and receiving governments.

When Aid is offered the main objective is to help promote economic development and welfare that can be used to create the essentials of life in these countries. Foreign aid has become more about what it can do for African elites, and severing the special interests of GOVERNMENT officials rather than the public, and this has led to the situation where Africa has failed to set its own pace and direction of development.

African governments have become so reluctant to generate revenue neither do they listen to the views, and opinions of their citizens simply because aid has created dependence, nearly half of most African country’s budget comes from financial assistance provided by other nations, and international organizations leaving Africans citizens in no position to develop new economic policies, and development agenda.

All African government does is to sit, and wait for the next aid check to come their way as they maximize worth, and the population continued to survive on less than a dollar per day. However, countries such as Tanzania Botswana, and Mauritius where aid has also been given have directly invested on the needs of their citizens, and infrastructure development. Foreign aid can help only those African countries that undertake political, economic, institutional, and anti-corruption reform.


Corruption is an age-old problem in Africa and has its root from colonialism, and was introduced by the corrupt colonial governments.

Corruption has become part of every day routine in the continent, and the most neglected human rights violation of our time. It fuels injustice, inequality, and deprived Africans from many basic services. It is a major catalyst for distrust in democracy in Africa. Much of the Aid Africa's received often gets looted by corrupt governments, and officials.

In Most African countries, all the government does is to sit and wait for the next aid check to come their way. For instance, in Mozambique since they started receiving foreign aid, the level of dependency as a percentage of their GDP rose by 16 percentage points in less than 20 years; and Zambia for the past years been relaying on foreign aid.

Yet, when Zambia gained her independence the country was categorized as a middle income country. Today, Zambia is positioned among the poorest nations around the world despite receiving huge foreign aid. , In Uganda critics argue that due to foreign aid, Uganda is more indebted than ever, and aid is also blamed for sustaining the unfair, and corrupt regime of President Yoweri Museveni from a political collapse.

There is an argument that if not for foreign aid the current regime of President Museveni would have collapsed due to public discontent in the face of major challenges facing the country, and it could be replaced. In 2019, the Global Corruption Barometer revealed that more than one out of four people or approximately 130 million citizens in the 55 African countries surveyed paid a bribe to access essential public services.

The continent is live experiencing extreme poverty today compared to the 1990s. Unless these challenges are addressed, many countries in Africa risk missing their Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets come 2030. Corruption continues to harm the efforts to bring people out of poverty.

Corruption and democracy:

Africans are concerned, and skeptical on their governments because, there is no proof that shows how foreign aid has positively contributed to their livelihood, or economic development. As long as corruption continues to go largely unchecked, democracy will continue to be under threat in Africa because, corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions, and it remains a major challenge in Africa socio-economic growth, and development. Every year Africa's continues to lose billions from embezzlement, bribery, and tax avoidance. Weak institutions have failed to check corrupt officials, and the movement of ill-gotten gains out of the region. About 70% percent of Africa's resources are invested outside the continent. The effects of corruption go beyond the corrupt government or individual, and it damages the rule of law, social justice and erode the truth in democracy, and elected officials to act in public interest.

If Africa's utilize her resources and invest in infrastructure and agricultural development, Africa's economy will be much better, and Africa will be a Middle-income continent. African governments must get serious about anti-corruption both adopting and enforcing legal frameworks, strengthening their institutions, and ensuring accountability for public procurement. Institutions charged with providing basic public services should be more transparent and accountable in their operations.

Politicians and senior public officials, should improve policies and mechanisms to allow citizens to access public information, demand accountability from their governments, and report corruption. Whistleblowers of corruption should also be protected by their government because there is an obligation to act against corruption, and the tendency of stealing as a full time GOVERNMENT JOB must stop, if Africa is to realize her full potential.