Public service ethics in Africa


Committed public servants in Africa understand that corruption in public life can seriously undermine a nation's prospects for development.

  • Executing agency: UN/DESA Division for Public Economics and Public Administration
  • Senior advisor: Ms. Elia Yi Armstrong
  • Start date: 1 April 2000
  • Partners: UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Steering Group
  • Total budget: USD 664,001

There is a greater awareness of ethics in public life today, as the media around the globe report on questionable campaign financing and lobbying, the acceptance of lavish gifts and entertainment, outright bribery and fraud, the obstruction of justice, etc. In recent years, many countries in Africa are linking the issue of integrity of leadership and institutions to economic and social development.

In August 99, DPEPA undertook a pilot mission to South Africa, Namibia and Madagascar to launch in the field a Support Services for Policy and Programme Development (SPPD) project on public service ethics in Africa. In April 99, DPEPA had begun implementing this regional comparative study on behalf of UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa. The objective of the research is to assist governments in Africa to improve the management of ethics and conduct in the public service through surveying existing policies and programmes. The study will survey ten countries form a pool of 15: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

A Project Steering Group (PSG), composed of regional organizations, has guided the research process: African Association of Public Administration and Management, African Institute for Democracy, African Association of Political Science, Economic Commission for Africa, Global Coalition for Africa (Vice-Chair), Organisation for African Unity (Chair), Rabat Declaration Ministerial Steering Group, and Transparency International. The PSG met twice, at the beginning (1999) and end (2000) of the research fieldwork. In addition, 1000 copies of a two-volume report have been printed in English. 200 copies of Volume 1 in French have been printed. Volume 2 has been translated into French and is being formatted for printing. A database, holding the replies to the study questionnaire and other supporting information, has been converted into web-pages and put up on the project web-site at . To disseminate the results, the English version of the report has been sent to participating countries, key stakeholders, and other interested individuals. Once Volume 2 in French has been printed, the two volumes in French will also be sent to the participating francophone countries. Study results have been disseminated nationally in South Africa and Namibia in 2001. Moreover, the study was reported in Transparency Internationalís Global Corruption Report 2001 as well as at other ethics and anti-corruption fora.

Future Activities

The project is winding down as it has delivered its outputs and is focusing on updates and dissemination activities. The project will be launched regionally at the African Governance Forum V in Maputo in May 2002. Also in 2002, the project will disseminate in as many of the eight remaining participating countries as the budget can support.

Problems Encountered

DPEPA tried to launch the project results in November 2001 at an OAU Expert Group meeting on the draft African Convention Against Corruption. However, since the invitation arrived very late, we could not attend. In addition, there was an unanticipated delay with the database conversion to a web-based format and the French translation of Volume 2 in 2002, which slowed down the dissemination process.