Corruption in Public Procurement: the case of infrastructure in Africa


Addis Ababa, 4 March 2015 (ECA) – Public procurement systems in Africa have increasingly become a target for corrupt practices. Indeed, corruption in the procurement of public goods and services is a major obstacle to economic growth and development. The effects of corruption on the economy can be severe, including misallocation of scarce resources, reduction in the quality of services, increased cost of doing business, discouraging foreign investments as well as shrinking governments’ tax revenues. It is estimated that African countries lose about USD 148 billion per annum in corruption.

Public procurement for infrastructure has not been immune to corruption. The infrastructure sector has become more vulnerable to corruption from the public sector, but also the private sector. This poses a major concern for the continent’s structural transformation agenda as resources are misallocated for corrupt practices.

In line with its initiatives on combating corruption and improving governance in Africa, the Macroeconomic Policy Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is preparing a framework study on ‘Corruption in Public Procurement: the case of infrastructure in Africa’. This research study is part of the Regional Anti-Corruption Programme for Africa (RACPA), which started in 2011. The purpose of this framework study is to provide an updated assessment of the impact of corruption in public procurement in Africa. Specifically, the study seeks to show the negative effects of corruption in public procurement on Africa’s infrastructure development and propose policy recommendations accordingly.

This framework study highlights the public procurement systems in some African countries, key challenges and the legal and institutional reforms put in place by governments over the years. Based on best practices identified within and outside the region, recommendations will be proposed to policy-makers on how to address public procurement corruption in infrastructure.

Preliminary findings of the study have been debated at an Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting held on 25th February 2015 and will further inform this research project.