A new study finds that while corruption is still rampant in most African countries, some of them have taken steps to fight crime.
Anti-Corruption watchdog Transparency International has released the results of the 2005 corruption perception index, and the head of the agency's Kenya Chapter, Mwalimu Mati, said most African countries are still perceived to be corrupt.
"Unfortunately Africa is the continent with the lowest average in the CPI with 31 countries out of the 44 listed in the CPI scoring less than three on the index, a sign of rampant corruption," he said.
Mr. Mati said the report shows that countries in the Middle East continued to score significantly better than those in Africa.
The report lists Chad with a score of 1.7 out of 10 as the country perceived to be the most corrupt of all the 158 countries surveyed. The other African countries at the bottom of the index include Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Angola, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Botswana in Southern Africa, with a score of 5.9, is perceived to be the least corrupt nation in Africa and is ranked at 32 overall.
Mr. Mati says data from the U.N. Economic commission for Africa allowed Transparency International to include more African countries in this year's survey. New entrants include Burkina Faso, Burundi, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Rwanda, Somalia and Swaziland.
Though the rankings appear grim for the continent, Mr. Mati says some African countries such as Nigeria have recorded marked improvements in the fight against graft.
"Nigeria's success may be related to perhaps the very high level and visible commitment of President Obasanjo to doing two things; One is pursuing asset recovery, pursuing the Abacha billions and two, this year President Obasanjo as actually fired his police commissioner, he has fired his minister of education for corruption. So those kind of bold decisive actions are the things which indicate high level of political will and commitment," said Mr. Mati.
The corruption perception Index is released annually by the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International and measures the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians.
The survey, which covered the period between 2003 and 2005, shows that of the 158 countries surveyed Iceland is perceived to be the least corrupt with a score of 9.7 out of 10 points. Finland is placed second, while New Zealand came in third. The United States ranked 17th with a 7.6 score.