Information and news about corruption

New law hopes to attract new business to AngolaThe future is bright for business in Angola. A new president and a new law are set to open the doors for foreign investment and more opportunities for the people in the country.

The country recently passed a new Private Investment Law. This Angola business law is set to attract lucrative businesses to the nation.

Angola Business Law

The unanimously passed Private Investment Law opens Angola’s doors to foreign investment that had previously been impeded by difficult requirements and country’s bad reputation.

The old law mandated that any foreign investor that partners with a local company or natural person has to have at least a 35 percent stake in the proposed business or investment. This requirement was intended to help Angolans partner with foreigners but turned out to be a restrictive factor for carrying out investments in the country.

To help aid international business, the new Angola business law removes the minimum amount of investment. Foreigners can now invest in Angola without paying in the hefty $1 million minimum, which was also one big barrier. The law also requires that foreign investors hire Angolan workers and provide a discrimination-free environment with good salaries, job training and a healthy environment.

The Work Behind the Law

The new Angola business law is all part of President Joao Lourenco’s plan for developing the country as an economic miracle.

After being elected and ousting former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for nearly four decades, Lourenco promised to attract foreign investment. In recent years, the country has struggled due to its lack of a diversified economy. The country heavily relies on selling crude oil externally, as oil accounts for more than 90 percent of all exports.

Ever since a decrease in oil prices, Angola has struggled to remain competitive. The new law makes business more open to foreigners and will ideally attract new businesses that can hire Angolans and bring capital to Angola’s economy.

The Fight Against Corruption

Lourenco ran his campaign on the promise of fighting corruption within Angola’s government, but he is also very committed to helping business thrive in his country.

“We are very committed to removing a major obstacle to doing business in Angola, which is the so-called phenomenon of corruption,” he told in an interview with Euronews. “So, this is a struggle that is difficult, it will take some time but we are prepared to face this giant problem of corruption and we are sure that we will win.”

By opening his country for foreign business and tackling barriers, he encourages large corruptions and wealthy investors to consider Angola.

Chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, Zandre Campos, is particularly encouraged by the law. He stated that the future is bright for Angola’s economy and its investment opportunities. All of the elements included in the law can greatly contribute to the growth of businesses, research, and trade, which is crucial for the country.

The world should watch Angola in the coming months to see if this law attracts foreign business and helps the nation build its economy. If nothing else, parliament’s nonpartisan stand and President Lourenco’s work thus far are very encouraging for the country.

With the new Angola business law, the future looks bright for Angola’s economy and workers.

– Sarah Stanley

Photo: Flickr

South Africa corruptionSouth African corruption is widespread, affecting educational sectors and police, and non-enforcement of anti-corruption laws. Corruption disadvantages citizens and hurts the poor in particular. Some efforts are being made to fight corruption as a few perpetrators are currently being prosecuted and a new government is vowing to fight corruption. In the text below, 10 facts about corruption in this country are presented.

10 Facts about South African Corruption

  1. The inspiration for the fight against corruption comes from the past and past policies in particular. The policies of Nelson Mandela can serve as great examples, as he instituted corruption investigation programs, starting from sports such as rugby all the way up to the government. Additionally, in 2001 Mandela warned of the growing corruption in the post-apartheid government and urged South Africa’s African National Congress to watch for racism and corruption in its own ranks.
  2. Citizens care about stopping corruption. In South Africa, the proportion of people who think that tackling corruption should be a national priority almost doubled between 2006 and 2011, from 14 percent to 26 percent, respectively. This indicates that the South African people want reform and changes within their government.
  3. Bribes are not the main problem but diverting public funds to the private sector is. While bribery between individuals is not as common as in other countries, the major sort of South African corruption occurs with the usage of funds and tax dollars in the private sector. This means that while corruption is often harder to identify, the source of the problem can be found and divergence of funds stopped by using already existing anti-corruption forces.
  4. Former President Jacob Zuma is currently being investigated. Although Zuma is not yet being persecuted for bribery and corruption, in August 2018, a public investigation of the top tier of the president’s government started. According to the State of Capture report released by South Africa’s anti-graft body, the Gupta business family may have used their money to influence Zuma’s choice of minister.
  5. The Gupta family is suspected of offering millions for certain appointments. In 2015, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas was offered about $41 million by businessman Ajay Gupta as an incentive to become finance minister.
  6. The Gupta family has had their assets seized. The Guptas consist of three Indian brothers who built a business empire using their ties to President Jacob Zuma and his allies. Recently, they had over $21 million at their Johannesburg residence seized after an investigation into corruption in a dairy farming operation. This money was intended as an aid for poor dairy farmers, but instead, the money went to one of the Gupta brothers and some of their associates. This is the first big result of the investigation in corruption and shows that it is possible to expect real charges and consequences for the actions of criminal offenders.
  7. Corruption stems from post-apartheid conditions. After dismantling the racially segregated apartheid system in the 1990s, hopes were alive that opportunity would increase and corruption decrease. The ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has instead been accused in many cases of corruption.
  8. Many watchdog organizations are taking action in South African corruption. For people living in South Africa, several organizations provide protection. The Public Protector allows anyone to report corruption and carries out the investigation into constitutional violations. Additionally, the Open Democracy Advice Centre advocates for legislation that would increase government transparency.
  9. Education programs can be implemented. In addition to the organizations fighting corruption, current leaders are looking towards the future. In the past, black Africans have been disadvantaged in schooling and corruption has begun at the lowest level, but as new generations emerge, the focus must be on creating a new culture of responsibility for the people.
  10. The new president has vowed to clean up corruption. In his State of the Union of February 2018, the newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to “turn the tide of corruption” within South Africa. While he has kept some previous appointees from Zuma’s government, his term indicates steps towards improving the corruption in South Africa.

While the struggles against corruption in South Africa are far from finished, the future promises changes. With citizens who care about ending corruption and holding officials responsible for their actions, South Africans have a great opportunity to improve the quality of life in their country.

– Grace Gay
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in KazakhstanKazakhstan, a country of 18 million inhabitants located between Russia and China, has been battling poverty since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The following top 10 facts about poverty in Kazakhstan show that despite the country’s independent economy being so young, there is a lot to be hopeful for about the future of the Kazakh economy.

This hope, in turn, leads to more programs and opportunities that help to alleviate poverty; however, Kazakhstan’s economic infrastructure still remains a somewhat volatile environment — despite booming energy and agricultural industries — due to corruption and over-dependence on global energy markets.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Kazakhstan

  1. Kazakhstan has a large agriculture market and is the sixth largest wheat producer in the world. The agriculture industry employs nearly 18 percent of the nation’s working population but only yields between 5-7 percent of their GDP. Nearly 80 percent of cultivation is done with machinery near the end of its lifecycle — local production of tractors, combines and other farm machinery are mostly non-existent, causing a large tab for importing expensive farming equipment mostly from Russia. This low return on investment (ROI) for Kazakh farmers leaves little to pay a significant percentage of its workforce; this lack can then leaves employees in the agricultural industry near or below the poverty line.
  2. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture launched a $158 million initiative to establish cooperatives to support small to medium-sized farms. These coops aim to help offset the low ROI for small, rural farmers by helping with buying new machinery, storage and transport products, veterinary services and other business costs.
  3. Kazakhstan is the world’s third largest producer of oil. Oil sales account for roughly a quarter of Kazakhstan’s GDP and about 60 percent of its total exports. The nation also has massive reserves of natural gas, coal and uranium. Astana, Kazakhstan was host city to EXPO 2017 for Future Energies. Due to Kazakhstan’s over-dependence on sales of oil and material reserves, its economy is still largely at the mercy of worldwide energy prices. The sharp decline of oil prices in 2014 had such a widespread effect on the Kazakh economy that its currency — tenge — was devalued by 23 percent by 2015.
  4. Chevron invested $36.8 billion for an expansion to Kazakhstan’s Tengiz oil field. The massive Kashagan field also began production in October 2016 after years of delays and $55 billion in development costs. Kazakhstan had a 10.5 percent increase in oil production in 2017, helping the economy climb back after the spike in oil prices in 2014.
  5. The poverty rate in Kazakhstan is actually quite low. Those living below the $1.90/day rate in Kazakhstan was estimated to be 2.6 percent in 2016, and the unemployment rate was estimated to be 5 percent in 2017, according to the CIA World Fact Book. These numbers, though promising, are quite deceptive. Kazakhstan’s annual income per capita in 2017 was only $3,010, which equals about $8.25 per day.
  6. Corruption is rampant in Kazakhstan. Companies cite corruption as being the number one constraint for doing business in Kazakhstan, according to a 2016 GAN Business Anti-Corruption report. Earlier this year, former Kazakh Economy Minister, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, was sentenced to 10 years on corruption charges. This comes just three years after a case was brought against 21 Kazakh public officials on corruption-related charges.
  7. Kazakhstan suffers from a complex form of regional poverty disparity. Since Kazakhstan is quite young, the government is still underdeveloped in rural areas. The U.N. is working with Kazakhstan to address this phenomenon. Developing infrastructure and education opportunities in poor, rural areas is just a few examples of how they are addressing the problem.
  8. Kazakhstan has achieved nearly 100 percent literacy rate. Kazakhstan has an estimated 99.8 percent literacy rate and a school life expectancy (the total number of years a student can expect to go to school) of 15 years — from primary schools to tertiary educations (such as universities) and trade schools. Kazakhstan currently has a $67 million loan from the World Bank Group for modernizing education. The objectives of this loan are to improve curricular standards, increase learning outcomes in rural and disadvantaged schools and increase citizen engagement.
  9. The World Economic Forum ranked Kazakhstan 57th out of 144 countries in its 2017 Global Competitiveness Rankings. This ranking represents a falling of four spots from the previous report. The cause of this decline in ranking, and the “most problematic factors for doing business” with Kazakhstan, according to the report, include lack of access to funding, corruption and an inadequately educated workforce.
  10. Kazakhstan has a thriving NGO sector. One such NGO is Wonder Foundation, based out of the U.K. Wonder is a charity dedicated to helping girls, women and their families access education and support needed to defeat poverty. The organization is currently working on helping young women gain access to skills, educations and rights in Almaty and the surrounding area.

A Young, But Mighty Nation 

These top 10 facts about poverty in Kazakhstan prove that poverty is not an insurmountable problem for the Central Asian state. The country’s GDP is steadily climbing while the nation works to be a major player in the oil and raw materials markets.

Kazakhstan also works to diversify their trading portfolio, enacting state programs to bolster secondary industries in the country and improve working and living conditions for their residents.

Economic sustainability is a slow and steady process, and Kazakhstan is heading in the right direction. At just 27 years old, these top 10 facts about poverty in Kazakhstan are indicative of a young country that has the potential to be at the forefront of world oil and agriculture markets and, someday, a significant participant in the global economy.

– Nicholas Hodges
Photo: Flickr


Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in the Democratic Republic of CongoDespite its abundance of valuable natural resources, including copper and oil, as well as a picturesque landscape that once drew wealthy tourists from around the world, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been plagued by political instability, leaving the Congolese people struggling to survive. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in The Democratic Republic of Congo

  1. Since acquiring the presidency following his father’s assassination in 2001, Joseph Kabila has followed the recent trend in accumulating wealth for himself and his constituents while ignoring the desperation the majority of his country endures. Nearly 50 percent of the DRC’s wealth belongs to the top 20 percent of its citizens while the bottom 20 percent has only 5-6 percent of the wealth.
  2. Almost 65 percent of people living in the DRC fall below the poverty line. This number has been decreasing in recent years; however, it still places the country near the very bottom of the list of wealthy nations.
  3. While the DRC has been trending towards urbanization in recent decades, more than 60 percent of the Congolese people still reside in small, tribal communities that have been regularly targeted by armed rebel militias. Raids by these militias have forced residents from their homes for fear of their lives, leaving many to seek refuge in displacement camps, such as The Mugunga III camp in the North Kivu province, whose lack of security has made it a target for militias to raid in search of resources.
  4. The DRC has one of the highest birthrates in the world with an average of 6.6 children per mother, which has led to an increasing shortage of food. Roughly 70 percent of the Congolese people lack adequate access to food and 23 percent of children are malnourished. Groups like Actions Against Hunger are working to provide food, household items and healthcare to displaced populations in the north.
  5. The infant mortality rate in the DRC is one of the highest in the world due to a lack of accessibility to hospitals and doctors. Because so many people are without health care, the infants who do survive often go unvaccinated until later in life. However, in recent years, these trends have shown improvement with the infant mortality rate dropping from 15 percent to 10 percent and vaccination rates increasing from 31 percent to 45 percent for children under 24 months of age.
  6. Despite Kabila’s efforts to block foreign aid to the DRC for fear that it will deter investors from putting money into his country’s industries, The U.N. has not slowed down in its effort to provide support. In April of 2018, The U.N. held a donor conference with the goal of raising 1.7 billion dollars to provide food, shelter and medical attention to the Congolese people.
  7. In October of 2017, The United Nations placed the DRC on its Level 3 emergency list, the highest recognition of crisis, due to unacceptable living conditions that roughly 4.5 million Congolese people have had to endure.
  8. Despite malaria being one of the DRC’s most prominent health crises, constituting nearly 20 percent of deaths for children under five years of age, groups such as The World Health Organization are working to promote prevention, education and treatment to combat malaria and other diseases.
  9. Life expectancy in the DRC is 48 years for men and 52 for women. Comparatively, life expectancy in the U.S. is 76 years for men and 81 for women. The top causes of death include treatable conditions such as malaria, respiratory infection and diarrheal diseases.
  10. Due to increasing pressure from the Congolese people, foreign aid groups and leaders of other countries threatening sanctions against the DRC, the Congolese government has increased its health budget by nearly five percent from 2011 to 2015.

Despite these top 10 facts about living conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo revealing a history plagued by political corruption, disease and a lack of accessibility to basic resources, the DRC currently finds itself in a transitional period that could begin to reverse much of the damage that has been done.

Kabila announced in August 2018 that he will no longer seek reelection and will relinquish his presidency at the close of his term. This opens the door for a leader whose intentions lie not in personal gain, but rather in rebuilding the DRC’s economy, providing health care, access to basic resources to the people and restoring the country to a position of growth and stability.

– Rob Lee
Photo: Pixabay

10 Facts About Human Rights in Iran
In March 2018, the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.S. Mission in Geneva restated their concerns about the state of human rights in Iran, such as the rigorously restricted rights of both expression and freedom that are enforced by Iranian authorities. People are arrested and imprisoned for expressing different beliefs and the punishments for crimes include floggings and amputations. Iranian authorities have refused to allow U.N. specialists to get involved. These facts about human rights in Iran explore some of the recent and ongoing issues in the country.

Facts About Human Rights in Iran

  1. In the presidential elections of May 2017, President Hassan Rouhani was elected for a second term. However, he was elected due to a discriminatory election process that included the disqualification of candidates based on their gender, religion or political opinions.
  2. The first large-scale anti-establishment protest since 2009 happened at the end of December 2017. Many Iranians protested against the ongoing poverty, corruption and political restrictions in their country.
  3. In 2016, 203 people were executed by law enforcement by October. Different human rights groups also say that the number may be higher, stating that more than 437 people were killed because the majority of executions occurred during the second part of the year.
  4. The U.S. imposed its first injunction on Iran for violations of human rights in 2010. As a result, 10 different Iranian administrators were given financial constraints and were banned from traveling to the U.S.
  5. The United Nations Children’s Rights Committee stated in March 2016 that flogging continued to be used as a lawful punishment for boys and girls who had been sentenced for crimes. Despite amendments to Iran’s penal code, children were still being executed in 2016.
  6. Another fact about human rights in Iran is that there have been continuing restrictions on media and obstructions of foreign television stations. In addition, Iranian authorities have banned 152 journalists from making any financial transactions.
  7. Iranian authorities continue to restrict medical care for prisoners. These prisoners are forced to live in horrible conditions, including overcrowding, little to no hot water, insect infestations and poor food quality.
  8. Different intelligence organizations in Iran continuously monitor citizens’ activity on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Multiple civilians active on social media have been arrested for comments made on the platforms.
  9. Women in Iran face heavy discrimination in personal matters like child custody, marriage and divorce. A law that is still in place today is that women need a male guardian’s permission to get married, even if the woman is an adult.
  10. Trials in Iran continue to be unfair, including prejudices against Iranians with dual citizenship. These citizens and foreigners endure lengthy prison sentences, unfair trials and capricious arrests.

These facts about human rights in Iran shed light on the maltreatment Iranian people have to endure. President Rouhani has been in office for three years, and though he based his campaign on improving human rights conditions, the situation remains the same in Iran.

– Alyssa Hannam
Photo: Flickr

Corruption in Jamaica
Jamaica has improved 15 spots in the world corruption rankings, now ranking as the 68th least corrupt country out of the 180 polled. Despite this progress, corruption in Jamaica remains entrenched and widespread, and its effects still drive poverty and crime in what is one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the Americas.

According to Transparency International’s 2017 Index, Jamaica received a score of 44, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. Although the jump in rankings is a positive sign, a score of 44 is still worrisome. The organization notes that any score under 50 indicates “prevalent bribery, a lack of punishment for corruption, and public institutions that do not respond to the needs of citizens.”

Also disheartening is the view Jamaicans themselves have on corruption within their country. According to the 2017 Global Corruption Barometer, which measures respondents’ perception of corruption within their own country, 51 percent of Jamaicans believed that most or all of the police were corrupt, with a further 37 percent believing that most (or all) of their representatives in Parliament were corrupt.

Corruption Costs

Both real and perceived corruption has far-reaching consequences for poverty, especially in developing countries. In Jamaica, where social infrastructure is already lacking, corruption diminishes quality of life by redirecting vital funding away from critical infrastructure such as healthcare, education, water, roads and electricity.

The money instead goes into private pockets, which results in an underfunded and underperforming government. This type of leadership then inadequately provides protection, jobs and basic services to its citizens.

Equally important are the effects of perceived corruption in Jamaica, where 68 percent of people believe corruption is increasing. This perception of a corrupt government is detrimental in that it discourages participation within the legal framework of society.

In the midst of an unfair system and a government which does not provide basic services for its people, many turn to extralegal groups for protection and livelihood. The result of such decisions are the high levels of murder and organized crime seen in Jamaica today.

Corruption and Poverty

Aside from the effects of corruption on the everyday life of Jamaicans, corruption also affects the economy as a whole. There is a universal trend of reduced foreign investment, lack of development and inefficient allocation of resources in corrupt nations.

The World Bank also notes that “the average income in countries with a high level of corruption is about a third of that of countries with a low level of corruption.” In Jamaica, this means corruption categorically lowers the quality of life for the vast majority of Jamaicans.

Positive Signs

Despite endemic corruption’s continued presence, there are indications that Jamaica is heading in the right direction. According to Transparency International, corruption in Jamaica has been decreasing, evidenced by its improved rank in the global corruption indexes.

Additionally, Jamaican leadership has begun to take an interest in anti-corruption, and has acknowledged that sustained economic growth is impossible without combating corruption. The Integrity Commission Bill in July 2017, passed by the Jamaican Senate, was an important step in the right direction. The act set in motion the establishment of an independent anti corruption unit tasked with uncovering and prosecuting corruption in Jamaica.

What Can Be Done

In its recommendations on curbing corruption, Transparency International notes five important areas in which the Jamaican government can improve:

  1. Encouraging free speech and an independent media.
  2. Minimizing regulations on media and ensuring journalists can work without fear of repression or violence.
  3. Promoting laws that focus on access to information to engender transparency.
  4. Advocating for reforms at the national and global level which push for access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.
  5. Disclosing relevant public interest information including government budgets and political party finances.

Transparency International also notes the important role that everyday people can play in the fight against corruption. In fact, Jamaicans overwhelmingly believe in their own ability to fight corruption, with 73 percent of the population believing they can make a difference. Transparency International gives these suggestions for those trying to take up the fight against corruption.

  1. Say no to paying bribes.
  2. Report incidents of corruption to the authorities. When there are no trustworthy authorities, report the incident to Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centers (located in over 90 countries).
  3. Join an Anti-Corruption organization.
  4. Take part in a peaceful protest.
  5. Pay more to buy goods and services from a corruption-free company.
  6. Spread the word about corruption through social media.

Although Jamaicans still face an uphill battle in the fight against corruption in Jamaica, the message from Transparency International is very positive. By making anti-corruption a priority, Jamaicans can bring corruption to the curb, and alleviate much of the poverty and social ills that corruption perpetuates.

– Taylor Pace
Photo: Flickr

Police Accountability in RwandaPolice accountability promotes stability in nations and increases safety in security. Directly related to reducing poverty, police accountability mechanisms assist community members, specifically the poor and disempowered, to politically mobilize and exercise agency over the future.

In the context of Rwanda, corruption and brutality have been historically prevalent; however, massive improvements have been made in safety and security. Today, Rwanda has one of the highest ratings of citizens’ evaluation of safety, corrupt police officers have been largely eradicated and a strong partnership has been established between the citizens and their protectors. Police accountability in Rwanda is consistently improving and measures have been taken to reduce corruption.

History of the Rwandan Genocide

In order to understand the context of police accountability in Rwanda, a brief background of the genocide that occurred in the 1990s is necessary. Before the genocide, Rwanda’s ethnic makeup was dichotomized: a large majority (around 85 percent) identified as Hutu, and the minority remaining were Tutsi. When Belgium colonized Rwanda, they put the faction of Tutsis in positions of power to rule over the Hutu.

Tensions continued to be exacerbated, even before the colonial rule ended. A Hutu revolution occurred in 1959 that caused over 300,000 Tutsis to flee and eventually resulted in Rwandan independence. Racialized violence continued for years until extremist Hutu leaders began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), consisting of mainly Tutsi refugees, responded with reciprocal violence, which continued until finally a coalition government was formed.

During the genocide, an estimated 800,000 were murdered, a majority of which were Tutsi. Much of the violence of the genocide was gender-specific, and it is reported that in the course of 100 days over half a million people were sexually assaulted. The aim of this violence was to tear apart communities, and it succeeded in that.

After-Effects of the Genocide

After the genocide, Gacaca courts were established in an effort to promote truth-telling and create a unified state. Gacaca courts, in the short term, disrupted women’s efforts to reestablish normal social relations in local communities, and in the long term delivered justice for some and established at least a partial truth about what happened, but many Rwandan women and men felt they were denied justice.  

These courts were flawed in their process of acknowledgment and straddled the line between restorative and punitive justice in many communities. The Rwandan government aimed to keep down mass incarceration levels after the genocide, and the Gacaca courts seemed like a good solution.

There were many shortcomings of the Gacaca tribunals. Several recent accounts of the courts’ performances reveal an egregious lack of due process protections, damaging the fairness of punishment as well as the prospects of reconciliation, according to leading scholars. Many judges of these courts, usually village elders, received minimal training and no lawyers were involved in the trials. Reports of false testimony were common and sentences neither followed a system nor were consistent.

Many Rwandans, nevertheless, served time in prison due to the determinations of these judges. Some have even said that these courts are an example of when a society so strongly yearns for reconciliation, citizens put justice before truth.

The legacy of these tribunals, and the tension that still exists for many Rwandans, led to the corruption and brutality that was perpetrated by the police in the early 2000s. Extrajudicial executions, meaning killing prisoners without legal process or judicial proceedings, were common and frequently made the news.   

Improved Police Accountability in Rwanda

Much has changed since then. Reform and a focus on security and accountability have been successful, and in Transparency International’s latest survey in 2017, Rwanda was ranked sub-Saharan Africa’s third least corrupt country. 200 police officers who were implicit in extrajudicial executions and implicated in corruption were dismissed from duty and the government has been hailed as one with no tolerance for corruption.

Police accountability in Rwanda has been condemned by leaders, and Rwanda police spokesperson Theos Badege said there would be “no mercy” upon corrupt officers in the police. “It is a national policy to ensure zero tolerance to graft,” Badege said, adding that accountability and integrity are among the core values expected of police officers while on duty. The past does not define this nation; instead, it helps shape the nation’s brighter future.

– Jilly Fox
Photo: Flickr

How Improving Governance Helps Growth in Developing Countries
It’s all too true that in most developing or vulnerable countries, local or national governments are tyrannical and corrupt. These governments have a propensity to abuse power, favor the rich and ignore the oppressed. However, by improving governance in the developing world, there is hope that unethical practices will be removed and replaced with unprejudiced laws that will fairly benefit everyone.

Problems Surrounding Corrupt Government

Numerous problems surrounding nefarious practices in underdeveloped countries stem from a lack of morality, discriminatory systems and misuse of power. The World Bank reports that in vulnerable countries, a disparate sharing of authority is a common problem that causes countries to stay in a state of impoverishment rather than move toward more progressive procedures that would allow for quicker growth and sustainability.

Unfortunately, it’s easier for the already-powerful leaders to resist change rather than consider the development of new policies for improving governance to benefit the whole society, regardless of economic class.

Additionally, there are many other factors that contribute to shady practices in the governments of developing countries. One of these practices is patrimonialism, which is defined in the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “political organization in which authority is based primarily on the personal power exercised by a ruler, either directly or indirectly.” This means that too much power can easily be granted to one person or group of persons (oligarchy), rather than having different governmental branches to limit what can and cannot be done.

What Steps Can be Taken Towards Improving Governance?

In a patrimonialistic society, the land or state is “owned” by a leader, granting that person the freedom to do as he, she, or they please. This power structure contributes to the cycle of poverty — wealthy land is distributed to the other wealthy people, allowing those choice few to access the best schools, homes and healthcare; on the other hand, the slums are given to the lower class, eliminating chances to thrive in a fair economy. Ultimately, this system halts economic growth for all the citizens.

The OECD Observer gives two good examples of a patrimonialistic society; the first being Morocco, where admittance to bureaucracy protects access to economic benefits, and the next being in the Philippines, where political sovereignty can be bought and sold.

Citizen-Based Elections

A great way to combat corruption, poverty and improve economic growth is by initializing citizen-based elections. According to USAID, more than half of the world’s populace live under only partly free governments, which limits their civil liberties, causing the inability to freely engage in politics. In democratic elections, the people are granted a voice in choosing who they wish to run their government.

USAID easily lays out the course for democratic elections. The steps include freedom of speech, association and assembly; elections as an essential tool to bolster political openings and cooperation; assembling advocates and describing different political platforms to the public and encouraging political debate.

Education

Another step toward improving governance is creating equal educational opportunities for all people. A large problem in the political sphere of third-world countries is the lack of education that causes many citizens who live in poverty to not fully understand politics; in turn they lack the skills to actively participate in events such as elections or assemblies.

Not only will education improve political understandings, but it will create jobs and give students the skills needed to be seen as valuable by future employers, improving economic growth and sustainability. With higher education comes higher knowledge and realization, skills that permit citizens to see and understand what areas in their countries need change.

Public Policy and Building Democracy

One of the best ways to promote better government is through improving public policy and actively working on building a democracy. In the developing world, the people and citizens are often ignored, and their opinions are thought to be arbitrary and unimportant to those high on the political spectrum.

However, in a democratic society, the people get to vote in elections for issues such as industrial projects and new laws. To help aid in understanding public policy and democracy, The World Bank created the Governance Global Practice, which aims to initiate trust between the government and the people.

Despite all of the concerns facing governments in third-world countries, these nation-states are not hopeless. Many countries work towards improving governance and government practices. In fact, organizations such as The World Bank, USAID and the United Nations provide hope for those searching for a better quality of life, and thereby foster countries to work towards a brighter future.  

– Rebecca Lee
Photo: Flickr

World trade reduces povertyWorld trade proves to be a prosperous way for countries to keep good relations while benefiting from one another. World trade reduces poverty in many unique forms, allowing businesses to buy and sell their goods in an easier, safer environment while improving economic balance and structure.

Economic Benefits

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), an economy will grow quicker and at a more consistent pace when free trade is more easily accessible. A company which earns a greater profit is more likely to hire a larger amount of people while giving their employees a stable position within the company, without fear of being laid off or fired due lack of funds or money.

WTO reports that there has been a 34 percent wage increase for companies in sub-Saharan Africa that participate in exporting goods. In a closed economy, the numbers severely decrease in amount, proving that the impact of trade can have a great consequence on each individual country. Generally speaking, world trade reduces poverty by boosting each economy and providing more opportunity for growth in any country.

Education and the World Trade Institute

With a better economy that has higher profits, this creates more money to be given to educational institutions. Not only do elementary, middle and high schools benefit, but for countries with an open market, this gives college-aged students and business owners a chance to learn the skills in trade, importing and exporting.

The World Trade Institute (WTI) provides many different programs for graduate students interested in learning the art of trading. WTI offers Doctorate and Masters programs in economics, political science or international law and economics. The World Trade Institute also offers courses and topics in trade, investment and sustainability, leaving its students with the knowledge of a successful career in trade while providing internship opportunities to gain experience and learn how world trade reduces poverty.

Reduction of Corrupt Governments

Many times, high poverty rates within a country can be a sign of government corruption or the country’s leaders taking advantage of its citizens. The World Trade Organization has enabled many different plans to help fight bribery, extortion, fraud and nepotism. Through the Government Procurement Agreement, government purchases can now be tracked and watched to ensure all money received or gifted is in good faith and only used for those who are abiding by the law.

The American Society of International Law reports that citizens universally pay around 25 percent more than average for communal goods and services under corrupt governments. When the government is providing better funding for things such as housing, education or creating jobs rather than participating in questionable business deals, this opens up opportunities for the people to create a better life.

Industrialization and Infrastructure

When business owners and entrepreneurs have access to public transportation and roads, it provides an outlet that allows them to travel to and from different regions, expanding their markets and advertisements. However, when a business owner who produces a good they would like to trade does not have a simple entry into other provinces, it proves difficult for them to be able to make any money or get their product noticed.

The World Bank reports that, sometimes, increasing trade for poverty-stricken areas can have quite an easy answer; sometimes, all that is needed is a new road. The World Economic Forum states that for a continent such as Africa, it is best for nations to trade with their neighboring countries. This allows the business to trade on a smaller scale before moving on to trade with first-world countries such as China or the U.S.

Technology Brings New Trading Outlets

Technological advances have made it easier than ever before for consumers to find what they wish to buy and for business owners and product builders to “post” their brand online. This way, the consumer can have their product delivered right to their door, while the company benefits from the profit.

E-commerce sites have recently become a staple in African communities, and businesses such as Jumia have seen a rise in revenue by raising $150 million in 2014 alone. Websites like Jumia have everything a customer could possibly want or need, from electronics to fashion to grocery items. Websites like Jumia showcase how technology can bring in money and jobs, while easily marketing brands around the world.

Technology, economic benefits and industrialization are only a few ways world trade reduces poverty. The Office of the United States Trade Representative ensures that our markets are left free and open, while keeping trade agreements with countries where poverty can be most prominent, such as Africa, the Middle East and South and the Western Hemisphere of the Americas. Keeping good relations with these countries ensures economic and job growth while bringing in an abundance of goods.

– Rebecca Lee

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is a landlocked country in central Asia with a long history of poverty. It is important to first identify the issues affecting poverty in the country, and then look at what is being done to address them. Here are ten facts about poverty in Turkmenistan:

 

10 Facts About Poverty in Turkmenistan

 

  1. According to the Asian Development Bank, only 15 percent of the population used the internet in 2015. This statistic shows a lack of access to not only the internet and technology, but also to disposable income and affordable energy.
  2. Also in 2015, the Turkmenistan currency was devalued by 19 percent, which was the first drop in almost seven years.  Bloomberg noted that Turkmenistan and neighboring nations would need to devalue the currency in order to keep their exports competitive.
  3. Although the definitions for appropriate living standards defer in Turkmenistan, the World Bank reports that 58 percent of the population receives cash incomes below the official national minimum wage. According to the government, however, having 50 percent of the national median income indicates unacceptable living conditions; only 1 percent of the population falls below this line.
  4. According to the World Bank, in 2016 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $36.18 billion; in comparison, the United States’ GDP is around $18 trillion.
  5. Carbon dioxide emissions are also a good indicator of a country’s development and urbanization. With a 2014 population of 5,466,241, Turkmenistan produced 12.517 metric tons of CO2 per capita. This high level of CO2 production — compared to a relatively small population — indicates unsustainable and slow development, as well as low access to clean energy sources.
  6. There are only 26 registered refugees in Turkmenistan, but it is likely that this number is actually much higher. The United Nations Human Rights Commission once estimated 40,000 refugees in the nation but indicates that most of them have become naturalized citizens.
  7. In 2011, Transparency International named Turkmenistan as the third most corrupt country in the world; this corruption is preventing genuine change that could reduce poverty in the nation.
  8. According to the United Nations Development Program, Turkmenistan has an adult literacy rate of 99.6 percent, which is extremely high for a nation with such high poverty levels; this indicates strong education systems in the country.
  9. In 2012, Turkmenistan adopted the National Climate Change Strategy, which aimed to develop more efficient resource use, a greener economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
  10. According to the Turkmenistan government, 75 percent of the national budget was dedicated to the implementation of the National Programme (2007- 2020) on Improving Social and Living Conditions of People in 2012. This funding demonstrates at least an intention to improve the lives of Turkmenistan residents.

Based on these facts about poverty in Turkmenistan, the country has a lot of work to do. Plans need to be improved for reducing poverty, improving the standard of living and becoming more transparent as a nation. Government corruption also needs to be addressed before real change can be made.

Finally, Turkmenistan needs all the assistance it can get from organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank, as this will speed up the process of improving the lives of those in the country.

– Liyanga de Silva

Photo: Flickr