Africa Freedom of Information Centre presents the State of Right to Information in Africa 2015 Report. This year’s issue focuses on the right to information and corruption in Africa. The topic was chosen based on the recognition by both the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Combating and Preventing Corruption the role of access to information in addressing corruption. This report covers 15 countries and addresses:
- Right to information and anticorruption frameworks in 15 countries.
- How productive has legislation on the right to information been in countries with domestic legislation?
- How can African countries strengthen the relationship between the right to information and anti-corruption mechanisms?
The history of the fight against corruption in Africa is littered with mixed fortunes. Africa is endowed with rich natural resources, good climate, rich soils and a young population yet it remains poor. Corruption undermines the continent’s development efforts. According to Transparency International, a leading global watchdog on corruption, of the 10 countries considered most corrupt in the world, 5 are from Africa. The African Union in 2002 estimated that the continent was losing US$150 billion to corruption every year.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated that observing human rights principles is essential to every successful and sustainable anti-corruption strategy. One such right is the right to information recognized by international and regional instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; United Nations Convention Against Corruption; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration; and the African Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
Eighteen African countries provide constitutional guarantees for citizens’ right to information while only 17 out 54 African Union member states have domestic legislation focused on the right to information namely; South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Uganda, Ethiopia, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Guinea, Tunisia, Rwanda, Corte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Mozambique , Sudan and Burkina Faso. Yet lack of political will and capacity to implement these measures continue to undermine efforts to address endemic corruption and abuse of state power and its resources.