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West, Central African Countries Low on Good Governance Lists


Two reports released by governance watchdogs name West and Central African countries as some of the most corrupt and poorly governed in the world. Kari Barber reports from VOA's West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar that some people in low-ranking countries complain the indexes make it harder for impoverished countries to entice investment.

Transparency International has released its annual report ranking countries, from best to worst, on how business people and analysts perceive the extent of government corruption.

A program coordinator with the Berlin-based group, Job Ogonda, says weakness in governing bodies and a lack of political will to fight graft are factors that often lead to perceptions of pervasive corruption.

He says when it comes to changing these perceptions, Africa has a long way to go.

"We have seen the improvement in countries such as Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Swaziland. On the flip side we have seen disastrous performance over most of the rest of Africa," he noted.

Of 180 countries on the list, the only one in the region to rank in the top 50 was Cape Verde, with many grouped near the bottom. Chad came in at 172 and Guinea at 168.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance, a new listing released Tuesday, ranked nations on criteria that include security, human rights, economic stability, free elections, corruption and infrastructure.

In the ranking, the West and Central African countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and Guinea-Bissau occupied three of the bottom five spots.

Guinea-Bissau activist and chamber of commerce head for the capital Bissau, Macaria Barai, says she worries the reports will discourage investment and further hurt the country.

"We can develop the tourism sector," she said. "We have organic products that can be transformed. We have rich culture. It is not just bad."

Barai says in Guinea-Bissau, like many poor countries, correcting institutional problems often becomes low priority while the government focuses on paying back salaries and dealing with the day-to-day survival of the people.

"Guinea-Bissau is conscious that we are moving down into the gutters of poverty," she added. "We want to change this scenario. We want to go up again like other countries."

Publishers of the reports say they hope to push low-ranking countries to look at what is going wrong and how they can make changes.

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