Amidst growing economic impasse in Africa, Prof. Chibuike Uche of African Studies Centre, Leiden University (ASCL), The Netherlands, has said that poor governance in the sub-Saharan African (SSA) was spreading fast and responsible for the high rate of corruption in many countries.
Uche, who revealed this during his acceptance speech at the launch of Stephen Ellis Chair for the Governance of Finance and Integrity in Africa at Leiden University, The Netherlands, said the crisis of governance in many African countries was porous and thus, responsible for the backwardness of the continent in economic achievements.
He pointed out that the World Bank, in its latest publication, disclosed that of the 49 SSA states, 30 had seen a worsening in government effectiveness based on poor economic Governance between 2000 and 2012. During the same time period, 35 out of the 49 had seen a decline in the control of corruption.
Uche said: “The World Bank assumes the existence of the good guy who will fix the problem, but corruption is the default position even among principals in many African countries.”
According to him, Stephen Ellis looked deeper than establishing institutions in his quest to understand governance problems in Africa and highlighted the important role of culture in the development of governance structures in Africa.
He said that criticising culture became more difficult after the 1945 UN formation to the 1965 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Did this help legitimise poor governance in Africa? Stephen Ellis also explored the link between religion and politics. Does the link religion-politics explain why Africa lacks entrenched protocols of power in political and spiritual fields?
Uche, however, stated that he wants to do further research into these daring questions, as well as into the role of culture and religion in governance. He disclosed that in 1989, after experimenting with markets, World Bank raised the issue of governance as a constraint to Africa’s development
“Underlying the litany of Africa’s development and management problems is a crisis of governance. By governance is meant the exercise of political power to manage a nation’s affairs. Because countervailing power has been lacking, state officials in many countries have served their own interests without fear of being called to account,” he said.
Uche added: “A root cause of weak economic performance in the past has been the failure of public institutions. Private sector initiative and market mechanisms are important, but they must go hand-in-hand with good governance-a public service that is efficient, a judicial system that is reliable, and an administration that is accountable to its public.”
He, however, noted that achieving good governance in Africa takes more than establishing governance institutions/ laws, adding that first step towards achieving this objective are to understand the dynamics of the continent’s governance structure.
The university don highlighted that World Bank’s solution to SSA poor governance includes attacking corruption at all levels, reducing controls to minimise rent seeking, ensuring transparent procurement procedures, prompt accounting and publication of audits, prosecution of those misusing public funds, aiding agencies to insist on accountability, punishing of firms giving bribes abroad, promotion of free press and public debate.