Governor of Nairobi charged with Corruption: An example for the continent?
On Friday, December 6, African media broke the story that Mike Sonko, Governor of Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, had been arrested on charges of corruption, presumably making good on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2017 second-term campaign promise to root out corruption at every level of government. Governor Sonko is accused of siphoning off $3.5 billion (USD) of government funds for his personal use. The arrest of a high-ranking politician is unusual in Africa, where corruption is rampant amongst top-level government officials.
Transparency International, an organization focused on tracking corruption, ranks Kenya at 144 out of 180 countries. The BBC reports that since Kenya’s independence from the British in 1964, Kenya may have lost $66 billion to corruption. In February 2019, the BBC and other media outlets reported that Kenya had paid $210 million (USD) for hydropower and irrigation dams that were never built. The trial relating to this corruption scandal is ongoing.
Kenya’s problem with corruption in government is not unique. A 2002 African Union study that is widely referenced, including by the Council on Foreign Relations, estimates that corruption costs the continent roughly $150 billion (USD) each year. Corruption has long been linked to weak economic development in Africa.
Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Republic of Congo rank among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the Corruption Perception Index, published by Transparency International. Maine is home to many migrants from these countries. Scholars identify corruption and nepotism as forces leading to migration toward less corrupt countries. The United States is ranked 22 out of 180 countries on the corruption scale, just behind France. Denmark is ranked as the least corrupt nation in the world.
13 French soldiers dead in SAHEL: A vast region quickly becoming a terrorism hotbed
Thirteen French soldiers died in a helicopter collision on November 26 while fighting Islamic terrorist groups that have found a safe haven in the Sahel region of Mali. More than 4,500 French soldiers are operating in Mali and other countries of the Sahel region. The Sahel is an area often referred to as a belt between the Sahara to the north and Sub-Saharan Africa. Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania have formed the G5 Sahel Alliance to combat terrorism and work toward other shared goals.
After a military coup ousted Malian president Amado Toumani Toure in 2012, the ancient Malian Empire descended into turmoil. The region, already suffering from instability, fragmented further as factions of insurgent armed terrorist groups killed or displaced millions of people.
Bordering Mali is Burkina Faso, which also shelters terrorist groups, according to the BBC. These groups include both the Islamic State and a branch of al-Qaeda known as Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin. More than 500 people have been killed and 500,000 internally displaced by jihadist attacks since 2015.
The Islamic State operates in Mali, Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso. Nigeria harbors Boko Haram, a terrorist group known to have killed people and abducted female students in Nigeria, Chad, and Cameron. Four U.S. soldiers died in a 2017 Islamic State ambush in Niger.
The author has traveled in Chad and has worked along the border between Nigeria and Niger, where multiple refugee camps house people displaced by terrorist group activity. These refugees express hopelessness about when the horrors perpetrated by the terrorist groups will end. Many refugees in the camps lost husbands, wives, or children before they fled their homes. Terrorist groups often sneak into capital towns like Chad’s Nd’jamena, where they detonate bombs in busy public spaces.