Poll finds 1/3 Africans paid bribes in past year

Poll finds 1/3 Africans paid bribes, more than half dissatisfied with government efforts

Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- A new poll of Africans in 34 countries across the continent finds that nearly one-third of people have been forced to pay bribes including for medical treatment, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Afrobarometer survey also found it was often the poorest citizens in each country who bore the brunt of efforts to shake down people for money at health clinics and hospitals.

The West African nation of Sierra Leone fared the worst overall when it came to bribes, with 63 percent of respondents saying they'd paid up at least once in the previous year. Morocco and Guinea came next, each with 57 percent.

Medical treatment was the second most common reason cited after paying off officials to obtain a document or permit, said Richard Houessou, who headed the Afrobarometer project in French-speaking Africa.

The problem of medical bribes was the worst in Uganda at 46 percent, Swaziland at 41 percent and Niger with 40 percent.

"Among the poorest — those who went without food at least once in the past year — 18 percent had to pay a bribe at least once in the previous year to receive treatment, compared to a substantially lower 12 percent among those who were better off," the report found.

The survey also found that more than half of the people polled were dissatisfied with their governments' efforts to battle corruption.

Nigerians gave the worst ratings to their government on its efforts to battle graft. Some 82 percent there said the government was doing fairly or very badly. Other dissatisfied citizens were in Egypt, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

Pollsters with the Afrobarometer project conducted 51,000 face-to-face interviews across Africa between October 2011 and June 2013. The country selected 34 countries to survey but did not include many in Central Africa, leaving out Congo, Chad, Central African Republic and Gabon.

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Follow Krista Larson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/klarsonafrica.

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