Crime, security and corruption in Africa

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In previous posts, I discussed the crime and security situation for firms in Latin America and the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. I have begun rolling data from the Enterprise Surveys for 21 countries in Africa, and the initial results suggest that crime imposes  as heavy a burden on firms in Africa as in Latin America. On average, losses due to crime and security expenses average about 2.7% of the annual sales of a firm in Africa. The corresponding figures for Latin America and ECA are 2.7% and 1.9%, respectively.

In conversations about Africa, corruption often takes center stage. Even Barack Obama—who has relatives in Kenya—was recently quoted on the issue during the G8 summit earlier this month: "my cousin in Kenya can’t find a job without paying a bribe." But the data suggest crime and security should be as much a cause for concern as corruption. The Enterprise Surveys reveal that bribes paid and crime-related losses are roughly similar, (3.1% vs. 2.7%) although there is some variation among individual countries (see the figure below).

Perhaps a closer look at the crime and security situation of enterprises is warranted.


Source: Enterprise Surveys. Crime and security losses above include losses to firms due to crime and their expenses on security (averaged over all firms surveyed). Surveys for the various countries were conducted at different points of time between 2005 and 2007.


Mohammad Amin

Private Sector Development Specialist

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