Okwuagbala Uzochukwu writes about youths, social challenges, and engineering, including material-engineering-related topics.
What Is Corruption, and Why Is It a Problem?
Corruption can mean different things for different people. In general, corruption means the practice of obtaining power, influence, or other personal gains through illegitimate means, often at others' expense. Corruption is an unconscionable advantage, profit, or gain through the abuse of authority and power (Ubani 2016). Ubani went further to say, “however, corruption anywhere does not exist in a vacuum.”
The more widespread and acceptable corrupt methods are in a given society, the more corrupt that society is said to be. Corruption has resulted in crises in many parts of the world, and those on top have used it to take advantage of others.
Examples of Corruption
- Typically, the word calls to mind political corruption, which could refer to a politician who, rather than letting the voters decide to elect him, will bribe and steal his way into office.
- A corrupt company, for example, may only promote individuals who perform personal favors for their boss.
- Corruption in a university setting may take the form of lecturers or professors accepting cash in exchange for higher marks.
Corruption exists in any institution where legitimate means of getting ahead are circumvented by allowing individuals to enhance their personal power with money or favors. As a result, it becomes harder or impossible for others to operate above board.
Corruption in Sports
In the world of sports, corruption is observed. Doping of athletes is not a new story. In a television program by Aljazeera TV channel on June 9, 2018, it was stated that 3,000 athletes test positive for doping every year. In the year 1994, Diego Maradona tested positive for doping in the FIFA 1994 World Cup in the United States of America.
Russian athletes are known to be involved in doping on many occasions. In the report by a whistle blower on Aljazeera, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is corrupt on their own. When athletes tested positive, they still manoeuvre their way and allow them take part in important competitions. Russian doping scandal led to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banning Russia from competing as a team at the 2018 Winter Olympics (Lee Wellings 2017).
Why Is Corruption Bad?
Why is corruption bad? If the proper channels to power and influence (working hard, not breaking the law, doing well on university exams, running a persuasive political campaign, etc.) are closed off, only those with money and connections will be able to succeed. Those who can neither afford bribes nor know who to call to get jobs for their children are out of luck. In short, corruption only benefits those who already have power, money, and influence.
Corruption – the abuse of entrusted power for private gain – is wrong. It destroys the basic rights of hundreds of millions of people across the world, it has devastating consequences on the services provided by public institutions and it undermines the prospect for a better life for future generations - Transparency International
What Are the Most and Least Corrupt Countries in the World?
Since a lot of corruption is undetected, it is often measured by the perception of corruption within a given country. If people believe their country is corrupt, then that is taken as an indication that it is. Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI), tabulated in 2013, uses polls and third-party assessments to score and rank public-sector corruption around the world.
This is a list of top corrupt countries according to Transparency International's 2013 CPI.
The 10 Most Corrupt Countries in the World:
- North Korea
- South Sudan
Since the year 2006, Somalia has been recognized as one the most corrupt countries in the world. The country have been in wars for years all because of corruption and disagreement. There is recurring famine and political instability in the country. According to Transparency International, corruption is both one of the leading causes and consequences of endemic political instability in Somalia.The African country has suffered a lot and some countries in the same Continent have been praying for the country for reign of peace in the land.
The list below shows least corrupt countries, according to Transparency International.
The 10 Least Corrupt Countries in the World:
- New Zealand
What are the most and least corrupt countries in the world by continent, according to Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index?
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Top Ten Most and Least Corrupt Countries in Africa
|Most Corrupt (Rank)||Least Corrupt (Rank)|
Cape Verde (41)
South Sudan (173)
Guinea Bissau (163)
Equatorial Guinea (163)
Sao Tome and Principe (72)
South Africa (72)
However, many African nations have been taken to task in recent years for widespread corruption. For example, a 2011 Gallup poll in Nigeria found that 94% of Nigerians think corruption is widespread in the government. What a shameful problem.
In January of 2017, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of Equatorial Guinea's president was on trial for corruption in France, accused of buying palatial Parisian properties and exotic cars with money plundered from his native country. The worth of the assets is put at $105 million.
Transparency International published an article on the case in July of 2017. Part of the lines stated, "The trial of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, wrapped up this week in Paris. A verdict is expected at a later date. Witnesses testified about the challenging conditions facing citizens of Equatorial Guinea, as well as the need for France to stop itself becoming a haven for stolen assets."
Corruption in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is an Africa country where corruption has been one of the benefactors for a long time. Corruption in this country is experienced in many sectors, both in private and public offices. In politics, corruption is “heavy swimming” as average politicians cannot do without indulging in one corrupt practice to another before they win in any election. In fact, the less connected citizens of Zimbabwe are the one that suffers as wealth which should be evenly distributed is being utilized by the top politicians alone.
In 2013, about 77% of the citizens of Zimbabwe said that corruption was very serious in the country (Transparency International, 2013). The corruption level in the country made Zimbabwe the 9th most corrupt country in the year 2013. As if the estimate was not enough, 92% of the surveyed citizens of the country lamented that their police force is corrupt.
10 Most and Least Corrupt Countries in Europe
|Most Corrupt (Rank)||Least Corrupt (Rank)|
Bosnia and Herzegovina (72)
United Kingdom (14)
No matter how Europe is respected as a continent with less corruption record, there are still some hidden corrupt practices that go on in the continent. Transparency International with her tireless effort found out some corrupt activities that go on there.
In November 2018, former Peruvian president, Alan Garcia, entered the Uruguayan embassy in Lima and applied for asylum hours after being banned from leaving the country while under investigation for allegedly receiving bribes from Odebrecht (part of the Operation Car Wash corruption scandal). The former president was banned and yet he ignored the ban and went on for application of asylum. That is bad and corrupt practice.
10 Most and Least Corrupt Countries in Asia and the Middle East
|Most Corrupt (Rank)||Least Corrupt (Rank)|
North Korea (175)
Hong Kong (15)
United Arab Emirates (26)
South Korea (46)
The 10 Most and Least Corrupt Countries in the Americas
|Most Corrupt (Rank)||Least Corrupt (Rank)|
United States (19)
Saint Lucia (22)
Dominican Republic (123)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (33)
Puerto Rico (33)
A new survey by Transparency International, the US Corruption Barometer 2017, was carried out in October and November 2017. It shows that the US government and some key institutions of power still have a long way to go to win back citizens’ trust.
The results show:
- 44% of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House, up from 36% in 2016.
- Almost 7 out of 10 people believe the government is failing to fight corruption, up from half in 2016.
- Close to a third of African-Americans surveyed see the police as highly corrupt, compared to a fifth across the survey overall.
- 55% gave fear of retaliation as the main reason not to report corruption, up from 31% in 2016.
- 74% said ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. (source: Transparency International 2017).
The Most Corrupt Countries in 2014
According to the result released by Transparency International on 3rd December 2014, the ten most corrupt countries in 2014 are:
- Korea (North)
- South Sudan
Somalia is the most corrupt country in 2014 followed by North Korea and the results follow the listed trend. Comparing corruption ranking in 2014 with that of 2013 shows that Somalia still remains the world's most corrupt country followed by North Korea.The two countries were the most corrupt in 2013 and 2014. In the year 2014, Afghanistan improved by occupying the world 4th most corrupt country and Sudan increased in corruption by recording the world 3rd most corrupt in 2014.
The Least Corrupt Countries in 2014
- New Zealand
Denmark still remains the world's least corrupt country. The country was the least corrupt in 2013 and still made the good result in the year 2014. Also, New Zealand which is the country that first gave women the right to vote during election still maintains its position as the world's second least corrupt country. Sweden dropped in 2014 as they are the 4th least corrupt country than the 3rd (third) position it occupied in 2013.
Most Corrupt Countries in 2015
According to the report published by Transparency International in the year 2015, Poor countries lose US$1 trillion a year to corruption. This is really a pitiable situation.
The Chair, Transparency International, José Ugaz, said this on the corruption perception report of the year 2015:
"The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption."
Hence, the top ten most corrupt countries in the year 2015 are:
- North Korea
- South Sudan
Other Methods for Tabulating Corruption
Other countries have been identified as exceptionally corrupt using other methods. For example, in 2013, Freedom House polled the perception of government corruption in "Free Press Countries," places where the freedom of the media is not limited and where corruption is more likely to be reported; "Partly Free Press Countries;" and "Not Free Press Countries."
Perceived Corruption in Free Press, Partly Free Press, and Not Free Press Countries
|Free Press||Partly Free Press||Not Free Press|
Czech Republic (94%)
South Africa (88%)
Costa Rica (82%)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (89%)
Republic of the Congo (77%)
South Korea (80%)
Top Ten Most Corrupt Countries in 2016
Transparency International have not failed in giving updates on the nations that have dirtied their hands by indulging in massive corrupt practices. According to the organization, corruption still remains rampant in public sector. The chairman of the organization lamented on the harm of the menace in 2016 through these words:
"In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity.” – José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.
In the year 2016, 176 countries and territories were surveyed and over two-thirds of the countries and territories in that year index fall below the midpoint of our scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
The top ten most corrupt nations in 2016 are:
2. South Sudan
3. Korea (North)
Top Ten Most Corrupt Countries in 2017
According to Transparency International in their publication on Corruption Perception Index on February 21, 2018, the top ten most corrupt nations in 2017 are:
- South Sudan
- Korea, North
- Guinea-Bissau and
- Equatorial Guinea
This year, New Zealand and Denmark rank highest with scores of 89 and 88 respectively. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia rank lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9 respectively (Transparency International)
Top Ten Most Corrupt Nations in 2018
On January 29, 2019, Transparency International as a non-governmental organization gave an update on the most and least corruption countries in the world. The result showed that many governments are still taking advantage of the people they rule because they are the one in charge. In the result, United States scored 71 in Corruption Perception Index. Because of this score, United States dropped out of the top 20 least corrupt countries on the CPI in 2018. That is to show that there are bad eggs in Donald Trump's administration. 180 nations were surveyed in 2018 and the top ten most corrupt and their continents are:
- Somalia, Sub-Saharan Africa
- Syria, Middle East & North Africa
- South Sudan, Sub-Saharan Africa
- Yemen, Middle East & North Africa
- Korea, North Asia Pacific
- Sudan, Sub-Saharan Africa
- Guinea Bissau, Sub-Saharan Africa
- Equatorial Guinea, Sub-Saharan Africa
- Afghanistan, Asia Pacific
- Libya, Middle East & North Africa
Corruption in 2019
In the 2019 corruption perception index, some countries improved in transparency while others declined. In the 2019 results, which were released on Thursday, January 23, 2020, the Corruption Perceptions Index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people.
The improvers in terms of transparency were Greece, Guyana, and Estonia. On the other hand, the countries that declined were Canada, Nicaragua, and Australia.
In 2018, Greece was ranked number 67 on the table globally and in 2019 improved to number 60. It is a clear difference of 7. Guyana ranked number 93 on the table in the year 2018 but improved in 2019 as the country was up to number 85 on the table. Estonia improved in terms of Corruption Perception Index score (CPI score) in 2019 although maintaining the same number, 18, as of 2018. In 2019, the CPI score of Estonia was 74% when compared with 73% as of 2018. It implies the country was cleaner in 2019.
5 Most Corrupt Countries in 2019
The 5 most corrupt countries/nations in 2019 are:
- South Sudan
5 Least Corrupt Countries in 2019
According to the ranking by Transparency International, the 5 (five) least corrupt countries in 2019 are as follow:
- New Zealand
- Switzerland and
While these lists represent the worst offenders, it's important to keep in mind that no nation is free from corruption.
Corruption and Economic Competition
At a workshop in Prague in 1998, Transparency International reviewed the relationship between competitiveness and corruption. The idea was also discussed at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in 2001. The World Bank Institute and other research groups have also researched the relationship between competition and corruption, finding that corruption stifles competition, economic development, and the competitive advantage of a given country.
Countries with the Lowest World Literacy Rates and Their Corruption Rankings
|Countries With Lowest Literacy Rates||Literacy Rate||Corruption Ranking|
1. South Sudan
4. Burkina Faso
6. Sierra Leone
What Causes Corruption?
What are the causes of corruption? People do not indulge in corrupt practices because they like doing so; rather, it is often their only option. To an extent, the causes of corruption vary from place to place. The causes of corruption in a closed dictatorship like North Korea may not be the same in a large democracy like Kenya. But there are still some general causes:
- Poverty: Poverty not only encourages corruption but corrupt public institutions, in turn, exacerbate poverty. It is not a good thing at all. The poor engage in corrupt practices out of desperation, but the only people who benefit in the long run are those already in power. It's no coincidence that the most corrupt countries often have the poorest citizens, or are otherwise ravished by war and violence. 80% of Africans live on less than $2 a day. In 2010, the United Nations estimated that 239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were undernourished. When the poor do not have what they will eat, they are forced to make money through cut-corners which are corrupt. The countries at the bottom of the corruption rankings, mostly in northern Europe, are among the wealthiest in the world. While it is difficult to say whether poverty causes corruption or corruption causes poverty, there is no question that the two are linked.
- Illiteracy and Poor Education: Similar to poverty, the most corrupt countries are often those with low rates of adult literacy. Literacy can prevent corruption in a number of ways. First, those who can read well are more likely to read newspapers and online media, and therefore be able to critically evaluate their own public institutions and politicians. Corruption feeds off ignorance. Second, basic education makes people more likely to find stable careers, and therefore they are less desperate. Again, while it's hard to say whether illiteracy causes corruption, or whether literacy can stop corruption, the table below illustrates that the countries with low literacy rates are higher up in the corruption ranking than those with high literacy rates.
- Unemployment. Similar to education and literacy, the unemployed are more likely to succumb to illegal ways of making money out of desperation. Many internet scammers and other grifters engage in this type of activity because they lack the opportunity to make legitimate gains. How do the countries with the highest rates of unemployment fare on the corruption scale?
- Greed: Greediness is impossible to tabulate, but it is undoubtedly an important cause of corruption. Corruption continues to exist because the people with the most in a society are not content with what they have. The more they have, the more they want to acquire. In corrupt societies, politics is an avenue for greed as leaders use their positions to embezzle vast amounts of public funds meant for the public good.
- Weak Governments: In corrupt societies, governments are unable or unwilling to stop corruption. They lack strong-willed or impartial anti-corruption agencies, and such agencies can easily be swallowed into corruption themselves. When such agencies are honest, their work is slow. In the worst cases, leaders staff anti-corruption agencies with their friends. The impotence of governments in the face of corruption is mimicked in the private sector. Corrupt business practices continue because executives are often the beneficiaries of those practices. A government which is weak cannot fight corruption because he will not in any way be propelled to take good action.
- Drug Trafficking: Drug use is often practiced by disaffected youth, who in turn create demand for a drug market that fuels corruption. In countries like the United States, hard drugs are commonly associated with crime among delinquent youths. The country's demand for drugs has allowed cartels in Mexico and Central America to flourish, and the Mexican government is frequently held hostage by the will of powerful drug gangs running supplies into the United States and elsewhere.
World Literacy Map
While not as clear-cut as illiteracy rates, 6 of the 10 countries with the highest unemployment rates are in the bottom half of Transparency International's low-corruption rankings. None fared particularly well on low-corruption rankings, with Namibia being the closest as the 54th least corrupt country in the world.
Countries With the Highest Unemployment Rates vs. Low-Corruption Rankings
|Country||Unemployment Rate||Corruption Ranking|
10. Bosnia and Herzegovina
As the table above illustrates, 8 of the 10 countries with the lowest literacy rates are in the bottom half of the world's low-corruption rankings, and 4 of them are in the bottom quarter.
How to Stop or Reduce Corruption
Corruption can be reduced through the following solutions:
- Employment Creation: The government and powerful individuals should work together to create jobs for the masses. Those countries that lack technological development should invite other countries and private companies to help them build their technological infrastructure. When the masses make money and learn skills as employees of those companies, they can start their own businesses. This will, in turn, create more jobs for the citizens of the country. Governments should encourage skill acquisition programs and employment seminars. The people that gain those skills will develop their own businesses with time and start employing others. Within companies, mentorship programs can ensure that skills and knowledge are passed on to younger employees.
- Pay Public Employees a Living Wage: It may seem counter-intuitive to pay corrupt employees more, but if police officers and low-level bureaucrats make enough money by working, they won't feel the need to take bribes. In Nigeria, policemen are considered to be the most corrupt institution in the country, according to the 2003 Nigeria Corruption Survey Study. In eight of the nine most corrupt nations in 2013, more than 80% of residents considered the police to be corrupt. Public employees should also undergo anti-corruption training and education, emphasizing the negative effects of corruption.
- Surveillance: Electronic monitors, computer programs, and other technologies can monitor corruption in government and businesses. In corrupt countries, the use of technology can be preferable to relying on anti-corruption agencies staffed with friends of corrupt governments. The installation of these technologies should be done secretly, without the companies’ awareness, or in a way that makes them impossible to be tampered with.
- Anti-Corruption Bodies: Each country should have anti-corruption initiatives. At the same time, there should be an international body monitoring corruption around the world without the need to answer to the rich and powerful within corrupt societies. The problem with some anti-corruption bodies is that many of them do not carry out their functions well. Many of them are too weak. Any country with the strong anti-corruption body will win the war against corruption, and international cooperation can enhance domestic efforts.
- Curbing Drug Intake: Reducing the corruption that results from the drug trade involves the efforts of both the government and its people. The drug trade relies on the demand for hard drugs. Seminars should be held on a regular basis where people will be taught the negative impact of hard drugs. Governments should also sponsor television programs where doctors who have good teaching skills will highlight the disadvantages of hard drugs. In institutions of higher learning, a course on drug use should be integrated into the curriculum. This will help reduce corrupt practices to some extent.
I will like to say this at this point; be the fighter of corruption and do not follow the multitude to indulge in that dirty act. You can start the fight from within your family. That everybody in your country is doing it does not mean you have to take part in it. Be the change you want to be attained in your country and others will learn from you.
You might have seen that your country is one of the most corrupt in the world. Another reader from the other part of the world might have felt that his country should have been included as the most corrupt because of embezzlement going on among the political class of the country. You may be right in your judgment, but the data presented here is the ranking from an authorized organization.
Resources for Learning More
- Lee Wellings (2017), Sports doping: IOC finds the right course on Russia, Aljazeera Media Network publication, Doha, Qatar
- NBCNEWS (2017), Equatorial Guinea President’s Son Goes on Trial Over $105M in Assets, retrieved August 17, 2017
- Transparency International (2016), Corruption Perception Index 2016, Transparency International publication
- Transparency International (2017), Corruption in the USA: The difference a year makes, published December 12, 2017
- Transparency International (2018), Corruption Perception Index 2017, published February 21, 2018
- ibid (2018), Somalia: Overview of corruption and anti-corruption, retrieved January 14, 2018
- Anti-Corruption Research Network
- Obinna Ubani (2016), We the People: Building a New Democracy in Nigeria as a Model for Africa, American Congressional Press, North town Court, United States
- United Nations Convention Against Corruption
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the main solution to prevent corruption?
Answer: From my own point of view, corruption has no one solution, but many. These solutions are discussed in this article.
Question: What is the solution to corruption?
Answer: The solution of corruption is surveillance, job creation, accountability in leadership, poverty reduction, selfless service, anti-corruption law enforcement, individuals positive change (moral practice), curbing drug intake, and paying workers well.
Question: How might corruption in business be ended?
Answer: I will summarize how to end corruption in business in four points (1) setting up business monitoring team by government (2) Monitoring by individual companies that produce specific products: This will make them discover whether some sellers are selling fake products in the name of their company's products. Any business owner found guilty is sued and punished according to law. (3) Proper orientation to business owners on the adverse effects of their corrupt practises in buying and selling. (4) Inscription of codes on some products: This code will be texted by the buyer to manufacturer to confirm the originality of the product. This is technological but it is doable.
Question: What makes people to be in part of corruption?
Answer: There are many factors that make people be a part of corruption. Among them are poverty, greed, hunger, poor understanding about life, selfishness, not considering the condition of others, intellectual poverty, and high passion for power.
Question: How does greed lead to corruption?
Answer: There are ways greed can lead to corruption. A greedy person is not satisfied with what he or she has? This can push him into action to gain more in a negative way. He then takes funds which are made for public use into his personal pocket. Doing so alone has made him corrupt.
There are many other ways. This includes buying inferior materials for projects given to him because he wants to make more money as a greedy person. He leaves society in danger due to his bad and corrupt behavior.
Question: What are characteristics of corruption?
Answer: The characteristics of corruption are as follow:
(1) It causes national backwardness
(2) It is unaccountability
(5) Poor development
© 2013 Okwuagbala Uzochukwu Mike P