Exploratory foray into match fixing in Africa

This blog is an initial attempt to analyse the ever present threat of match fixing within African football. It draws from various sources to highlight an increasing threat to the development of the game on the continent.Match fixing has taken a global face and with the increased interconnections due to technological advances money is exchanging hands easily. Africa has emerged as an important field in corrupt activities related to football. The marginalisation of teams and players based in Africa has opened ways to exploitation from betting syndicates from across the world.

Match fixing is a global problem yet as Onwechuli highlights, ‘it remains unexplained why the Western media focuses on African teams in the way that it does. Why are there no stories of stings targeting European teams when they have experienced a great deal of match fixing in the past?’.[1] My aim here is not shade bad light on Africa or provides a biased account that creates match fixing as a uniquely African problem. The concern of my paper is to highlight the global nature of match fixing by highlighting how the role Africa plays in this system that is often detrimental to the development of the game. The analysis of match fixing focusing on Africa does not deny the existence of bigger and more complex problems across other parts of the world. The concern rather is on the continued stalling of the growth of football across the continent and how match fixing is contributing to this state of affairs.

The biggest scandals of match fixing have happened outside Africa and the major ‘fixers’ are also from other parts of the world. For example, Federbet, which is based in Brussels, has also accused football’s authorities of failing to do enough to tackle match fixing. A total of 110 matches, including Champions League and Europa League ties, were identified as allegedly being fixed, with suspicions over a further 350. The total of 460 was up 20% from the previous year.[2] There are also many reports of internal match fixing cases in African leagues but they are not the concern of this current exercise. For example Rwandan top flight side SC Kiyovu expelled goalkeeper Andre Mpazimpaka over alleged match fixing in the team’s Turbo King Premier League clash against Mukura on Sunday 20 April, which ended 3 – 0 in favour of Mukura. According to the SC Kiyovu chairman Pierre Kayumba, as quoted by The New Times, the keeper was reported by his teammates to have taken a bribe to throw away the match and the club was left with little option but to act fast pending investigations.[3]

Match fixing in football though has a long non-African history. An ESPN report highlights the activities of Hungarian match fixer Dezso Solti who engineered the 1964 and 1965 European Cups for Inter Milan and also a number of other continental games involving Italian teams through bribing referees.[4] The report actually traces cases of match fixing to the English in 1915 where Manchester United and Liverpool players consipired to throw a game. Italy has also had this problem since 1927 when Torino were stripped of their championship because of math fixing. Calciopoli Scandal in 2006 led to Juventus being stripped of two championships and also together with Lazio and Fiorentina being relegated to Seria B.[5] What this shows is that match fixing is intricately part of the game and has historically affected some of the biggest footballing nations.

Terry Steans a former FIFA investigator admits that ‘Match-fixing is widespread. It is happening at every level and in many countries. Match-fixing syndicates with criminal intent have infiltrated all levels of football and sport from national, regional and onto international. Fifa needs to do more.’[6] Hill[7] argues that the contemporary growth of match fixing can be directly linked to three key factors namely: 1. the liquidity of the sports gambling market has grown and become unified; 2. it is now possible to bet money on more games in more leagues; and 3. international broadcasts are bringing sports to new audiences. Table 1 outlines some of the major match fixing scandals in Africa. The scandals are narrated verbitim from the reports which can be accessed from the provided urls.

Table 1: Match fixing examples in Africa

Scandal Source
The use of ‘doctored’ teams has long been a ploy of fixers at less noticeable matches, and Bahrain’s clash with Togo in 2010 was a classic example. The Gulf nation stunned the Togolese side 3-0, with the team’s coach, Austrian Josef Hickersberger, expressing his surprise at their opponent’s lack of fitness.But when word of the result filtered back to the African nation, the Togo FA was aghast at the outcome and said they knew nothing of the team or any of the players. It emerged that a disgruntled former coach, Tchanile Bana, had assembled the group of ‘fake’ players who received a payment of almost US$60,000 (£40,000) from an international syndicate, but the investigation eventually led to other officials within the FA. Perhaps it was little surprise that the squad didn’t submit a teamsheet while in Bahrain, or that as many as five seemingly legitimate goals were disallowed for the home side. https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/10-ugliest-match-fixing-scandals-football-history#Ih30MzJW32UpltDW.99
With a spot on the line to earn promotion to Nigeria’s professional ranks, the equation was simple for the two clubs who entered the final matchday of 2013 in contention: better the other’s result. With the Plateau United Feeders holding a 7-0 half-time lead in their match with Akurba FC, and fellow promotion hopefuls Police Machine six goals to the good against Babayaro FC, all hell broke loose as they both went on an unprecedented second-half scoring spree. The Feeders feasted on an astonishing 72 second-half goals to emerge 79-0 winners, while the Machine couldn’t quiet match that pace, only managing a 67-0 victory. One player scored 11 goals, another chalked up three own goals, and at one point there were four net-ripplers scored within a minute. The Feeders won promotion, but it didn’t take long for the authorities to act, with the Nigerian FA banning all four clubs involved for a decade in what they termed the “shameful”’ incident.` https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/10-ugliest-match-fixing-scandals-football-history?page=0%2C2#cHo2OyIRFViQAD7u.99



AFCON Qualifiers haven’t been immune to the perils of match fixing. In March 2016, a Swaziland-Zimbabwe Group L qualification match ended in a 1-1 draw that seemed innocent enough. But details emerged soon after that Zimbabwean Football Association executive and former player Edzai Kasinauyo had been in contact with an Asian match fixing syndicate. Kasinauyo, along with several accomplices, tried to convince three Zimbabwean players to lose both their matches against Swaziland by two goal deficits, in exchange for $15,000 each. An inside whistleblower later revealed the scheme, resulting in Kasinauyo’s suspension, firing and a 10-year ban from the sport despite his pleas of innocence. https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2017/01/206057/brief-history-match-fixing-africa-cup-nations/
In 2014 a South African referee, Clifford Malgas, was jailed for two years for corruption and two years for perjury for his role in trying to manipulate the outcome of lower league promotion play-off games in 2011. A former South Africa assistant coach, Phil Setshedi, got a threeyear term for his part in the scam. He was caught in a sting operation as he tried to bribe an undercover policeman posing as another referee. https://www.transparency.org/files/content/feature/1.6_CorruptionAfricanSport_Tsuma_GCRSport.pdf
FIFA banned three more former South African Football Association officials on Monday over match-fixing in friendly games ahead of the country’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup. Former SAFA chief executive Leslie Sedibe was banned for five years and fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,200 US). The governing body also banned Steve Goddard and Adeel Carelse, both former officials at SAFA’s referees department, for two years each. Last year, Lindile Kika, SAFA’s head of national teams in 2010, was banned from all soccer activities for six years. FIFA believes that at least one of the South African national team’s friendly games in the weeks ahead of the continent’s first World Cup was fixed by the referee. SAFA officials were under investigation for allowing a company controlled by Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal to appoint the referees for the games. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/soccer/fifa-match-fixing-1.3490448
Lesotho players allegedly received cash in Malaysia [trip planned and paid for by Perumal], which, Mohapi said, was paid to them as an allowance. After the 2007 encounter, a number of Lesotho players who had travelled to Malaysia went on a spending binge on their return, raising suspicions that they had been bribed. In November 2012, the Lesotho Football Supporters Association raised the alarm about possible match-fixing, but the LFA has not investigated the allegations. The supporters’ association also asked Lesotho’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences to investigate. The directorate took no action, saying that there was no case. Two former Lesotho national team players, who asked to remain anonymous, have alleged that Lesotho’s ­fixture against Ghana in a World Cup qualifier on June 8 2008 in Bloemfontein could also have been fixed. Lesotho lost the match 3-2 after going down 3-0 midway through the second half. https://mg.co.za/article/2013-05-31-00-new-evidence-of-match-fixers-lesotho-offer
Ex-Sierra Leone captain Ibrahim Kargbo is among 15 players and officials who have been suspended indefinitely over allegations of match-fixing. The three other players implicated are Ibrahim Koroma, Samuel Barlay and Christian Caulker. Three referees and another eight officials, including Rodney Michael, are the others to have been suspended. The allegations relate to a World Cup qualifier against South Africa in 2008 which ended goalless. http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/28325794

The political economy of global financial systems has largely engaged Africa in an exploitative manner. The large financial centres of the world are elsewhere and Africa has remained at the periphery, offering raw materials and resources whilst it remains trapped in poverty, high debt and low human development. When analysing the global match fixing value chain, it is important to highlight this continued exploitative relationship between Africa, global north and emerging economic powers (especially Asian). The weak systems of governance and control also provide a lucrative opportunity to match fixers. African football administrators have proven over the past years to willing and able co-conspirators in match fixing scheme. In one example:

Christopher Forsythe, a registered Fifa agent, along with Obed Nketiah, a senior figure in the Ghanaian FA, boasted that they could employ corrupt officials who would rig matches played by Ghana. The president of the country’s football association then met the undercover reporter and investigator, along with Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah, and agreed a contract which would see the team play in the rigged matches, in return for payment. The contract stated that it would cost $170,000 (£100,000) for each match organised by the fixers involving the Ghanaian team, and would allow a bogus investment firm ​to appoint match officials, in breach of Fifa rules.

There is need to reiterate that evidence so far around global match fixing shows that Africans play a facilitation role yet the biggest players accruing the biggest profits are not on the continent.


Africa has over the recent past provided an easy target for fixers with willing football administrators and poorly paid players and referees available to play along. The state of the game across the continent is such that in most countries football teams are struggling to keep afloat and players remain poorly remunerated. Wilson Raj Perumal when speaking to CNN highlighted how had contacts within national football associations across the world. It is with these associations especially in Africa that he would organise for participation of national sides in fixed matches in which at times he sat on the bench as part of the coaching staff.[8] The relative lack of financial rewards from football provides a way for match fixing syndicates to gain a foothold in Africa. Zimbabwe in 2004, because of desperation for a kit sponsor accepted to host a game against El Salvador planned by kit maker L-Sporto as part of a sponsorship deal.[9] The only problem is that it was later found that the team was a fake El Salvadorian team. The financial plight of African football thus places the continent as the bottom feeder for the global match fixing value chain.

[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/26/sport/football/match-fixing-wilson-raj-perumal-corruption/index.html

[2] https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2006/08/04/another-kit-to-wipe-tears-from-our-eyes/

[3] http://kwese.espn.com/football/blog/espn-fc-united-blog/68/post/1840239/the-history-of-match-fixing

[4] http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/22/sport/football/football-juventus-agnelli/index.html

[5] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/world-cup/10918321/Football-match-fixing-deal-casts-cloud-over-World-Cup.html

[6] Hill Declan. The Insider’s Guide to Match-Fixing in Football, Toronto: Anne McDermid (2013)

[7] http://theconversation.com/media-focus-on-africa-for-match-fixing-is-cause-for-concern-28795

[8] http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/27706762

[9] Ngulu, Dan. “Keeper expelled over match fixing claims“, 24 April 2014, http://www.futaa.com/football/article/keeper-expelled-over-match-fixing-claims

Featured image source: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2014/08/wilson-raj-perumal-man-fixed-football/


Challenges facing commercialisation of African football

Club ownership structure

Ownership of African football clubs fall into three broad categories: community, government and private owned clubs. Whilst it is not clear which type of football will work best in Africa there are serious problems, which have been documented “with community owned teams. Community owned clubs tend to have huge followings with thousands of registered members e.g. Yanga and Simba in Tanzania – millions of supporters across the country and around 12-13,000 registered members. In Egypt, between 10,000-20,000 members vote in club elections. Zamalek’s current membership stands at around 54,000 and since membership is one per family.”[i] A report on club structures notes the two following failures with community clubs in Africa:

  • Administration – despite their large fan bases and on-pitch success, the larger member-owned clubs face complicated and deep-rooted administrative difficulties. Such is the influence of the clubs amongst their supporters and the wider population that, if unprotected by robust regulation, the institutions are to over-politicization. In such cases, the principles of democracy, transparency and accountability may be compromised.
  • Financial issues – in a number of cases, community-owned clubs have become over-dependent on state support and do not otherwise run as financially sustainable businesses. The lack of a stable financial base contributes further to over-politicization of the clubs. In Zimbabwe the two biggest clubs, Highlanders and Dynamos have varying forms of community ownership, which has led to continued fights over the control of the clubs. State owned clubs are no better given the intense control by governments in the day-to-day running of clubs. Corporate sponsors are in the main are not attracted to state owned teams because of government interference in the clubs. Private owned clubs fall into two types: individually owned clubs such as Sundowns of South Africa and TP Mazembe of DR Congo and clubs owned by companies such as Tusker in Kenya. Such clubs usually are better run with much financial support from the owners.

Corruption and lack of integrity

Rampant corruption, maladministration and lack of accountability have negatively impacted on the development of football in Africa.[ii] Corruption is synonymous with African football. The tale of the game on the continent is full of controversy and complex problems involving missing funds, election rigging, presidents who serve for decades, under paid players and poor infrastructure. This paper provide examples from across Africa that highlight how the under development of the game is intrinsically linked to the lack of transparency in how the game is being managed. The nature and level of corruption might be different from country to country but what is clear from literature is that most, if not, all African countries have serious administrative problems. Whilst there are many definitions of corruption, this paper views it as the abuse of public office for private gain. Within football this is when any official or person or persons use their position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage. Across the world football corruption is evident in many activities including vote buying, match fixing, bribing officials, player transfers, sponsorship deals and even team selections. Across Africa issues of nepotism, tribalism, regionalism and religion also play an important part in corrupt activities. Corruption determines access to space, resources and fair chance. Corruption is institutionalised within African systems and football structures are not different. Pannenborg[iii] shows that corruption in Africa has many names: ‘a little something’, a ‘gift’, a ‘motivation’, ‘an envelop’ or a ‘dash’. Most of them refer to eating – indeed; ‘to eat’ means people using public money for private purposes. Nigerians call it ‘sharing the national cake’ which tells you that the practice is to some extent ‘legitimized.’ African football, as with its politics, has developed a system of patronage in which rich and powerful individuals use their positions within football to amass wealth, power and continued political influence. This is what Price terms the ‘Big Man Small Boy Syndrome’ in which The Big Man controls and gives orders; the Small Boy obeys and does not dare to speak his mind.[iv]

Most of the people employed in football in Africa are clients who are placed there in most cases without any proper qualifications or skills to perform the task. A report by the Forum of African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) labels football administrators as corrupt, greedy and inefficient administrators.[v] Khumalo[vi] concludes that while players (such as George Weah, Salif Keita, Didier Drogba and Kalusha Balwa) have sacrificed their personal fortunes to develop not just soccer but also their own communities, and have in some cases bailed out their national teams, the administration tasked with developing the game focus on personal gain. Football can be a lucrative livelihood for senior administrators with access to funds from FIFA, taxes from affiliates including premier soccer leagues and from national team games. Very little is ploughed back into structures that promote junior football or coaching structures. The FAIR report[vii] outlines instances of vote buying and corruption in elections for footballing positions. One example is in Zimbabwe where two football councilors admitted receiving US$2000 each for their votes in electing football president. Sugden and Tomlinson[viii] argue that the problem, which is most worrying in Africa, is the scale of corruption. Admos Adamu who was the head of Nigeria’s football association allegedly misappropriated US$800 000 grant from FIFA meant for infrastructural programmes.

Former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell once claimed that 90 out of 100 dollars in football disappears in private pockets.[ix] Corruption is bad because it, among other things, demoralizes the players (Pannenborg 2010). FAIR report cites the following cases of corruption from across Africa to highlight the wanton and brazen acts of corruption affecting African football:

  • In Cameroon mobile phone company MTN pumped in US$600,000 of an US$800,000 project to renovate a number of stadiums. The other US$200,000 was to come from Fecafoot, the Cameroonian FA, but instead, US$146,000 ended up in the pockets of the then sports minister, Thierry Augustin Edzoa, so that he could “breathe easier”, he said after the payment. The work never happened. The $600,000 is unaccounted for.
  • Under Adamu, Nigerian football has reached a position whereby only 10% of the US$7m received from the sponsor Globalcom reaches the clubs. Television rights for the Nigerian league are worth around US$5m, but since this deal was signed no Premier League club has received a share of the money.
  • In Ivory Coast, FIF received $1.6m a year from the Ivorian Petrol Refinery Company, SIR, but local clubs never got any of the money. The fund’s existence only became public when SIR stopped the donations in 2007 on discovering the money was not being distributed.[x] There is a lot of money flowing into the African game from “companies whose core businesses are mining, agriculture, oil and gas, beverages and otherwise, but also by international sports companies such as Adidas and Puma and by television networks on the continent. There is also money coming in from other types of sponsorships and FIFA development projects. Much of the funds are earmarked for grassroots development but one only has to see the poor football facilities in Africa to notice that the money may be spend elsewhere.”[xi]

Lack of football infrastructural development

Across much of the continent, the game’s infrastructure is crumbling due to corruption, lack of investment and neglect.[xii] Stadiums of most clubs resemble junkyards with poor drainage systems, bumpy pitches, poor changing rooms, concrete sitting and no cover or shade for fans. Most stadiums have poor entrance and exit points, which makes it extremely difficult and dangerous to enter or leave some of the stadiums. Unlike in Western Europe where clubs own stadiums or lease stadiums from local councils, in Africa governments own, maintain and control stadiums. Clubs do not have the economic capacity to run and manage stadiums of their own. This has led to decaying stadiums, which are in many ways dangerous for both players and spectators.[xiii] In Ghana stadiums were built in the 1950s and have only seen periodic renovation. The National Sports Council (NSC) has playing fields scattered all over the country in the name of stadiums but most of them are in deplorable condition. Nkawkaw Park in the Eastern Region has been declared a security risk, forcing premier league campaigners, Okwahu United, to move away from the stadium and play their matches at the Accra Sports Stadium.[xiv]

African governments have more pressing socio-economic issues to deal with than to invest in stadiums except when they are hosting continental tournaments and in the case of South Africa, the FIFA World Cup. The stadiums and football infrastructure keeps fans away meaning less revenue for the clubs. The bumpy pitches also affects the type of football being played and in some cases some of the stadiums make it difficult for broadcasting networks to carry the matches on television. Only a few countries such as South Africa and Morocco boast of world-class stadia and facilities. Other countries such as Angola, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Mali have benefitted from hosting the Africa Cup of Nations, which has led to building and renovation of some stadia. On the whole however football infrastructure in Africa is in a poor state. This makes attending games across the continent a dangerous endeavor and yearly people lose their lives at stadiums. Stadium deaths are also due to “contempt for spectator safety on the part of the administrators and non-professional security personnel are the prime causes. Mismanagement worsens the situation (people are allowed in when the venue is already full). Sound management practices and well-trained personnel could do much to alleviate these problems.”[xv] There is no money going into improving security or increasing the comfort of fans within stadiums. This affects attendance, which in turn hurts local clubs most of whom depend on gate takings for survival.

Globalisation of European football

In most contemporary African societies today, we have communities of highly committed European football fans. These communities seem to manifest most of the conventional characteristics of football fandom. Barring the fact that these fandoms are geographically set apart from the teams and players they support, the deep structure that informs their identifying with and support of European football teams seems to bear a significant sense of empathy with the teams they support, deep interest in the athletic performance of these teams and desire to acquire as much knowledge as possible about these teams. In this way, the practice of European football acquires an immediate and sustained following in the African society. Indeed, as it has been observed by Vokes[xvi] and Komakoma[xvii] the English Premier League in particular has become an important element in the mainstream of the socio-cultural reality of African societies. Vokes explores the social effect of this European football on a rural region of Uganda called Bugamba. He observes, “when moving around the various shops and bars that constitute the main hub of social activity in these parts, one today hears not only the more usual talk of crop yields, school fees and the like, but also conversations about the past week’s EPL results, movements in its transfer market, and its various teams chances over the months ahead.”[xviii] The growth of popularity of European football games and the rise of these fandoms means that local clubs have to compete with such teams for attendance on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The growth of satellite television broadcasts, sports bars and multiple football watching spaces across Africa has meant fans are more in tune with the happenings in the English or Spanish league than in their own local leagues. Fans are opting for television mediated fandoms and football they view as superior and of a better quality than local football. This electronic colonialism of sporting spaces has seriously affected local teams even in commercial terms where fans would rather be seen in a Barcelona or Manchester United shirt.

Poor marketing and selling of football

Most African teams are guilt of not engaging adequately with their fan base.[xix] There is a lot of secrecy involved and fans tend to have little or no idea about the clubs. The fans are disengaged except for hardcore ultras who seek out information on the team. There are no events or publicity ceremonies in most countries that bring fans nearer to their teams. The clubs do not produce match day publications or any form of publication to inform fans and attract new support bases. The majority of clubs do not have on line strategies to sell their brands, which has meant that European based clubs with such infrastructure dominate on line sports presence in Africa. Most clubs do not have websites, in fact there are leagues without websites. There is a lack of skill and capacity within the African football structures to exploit the emerging vehicles for marketing and advertising their brands such as social media. On platforms such as Facebook, football related topics and news are shared and debated through fans’ initiated pages. Websites and social media can be an advertising vehicle as well as a way to recruit more fans. It also provides channels to make and sell club branded products. Most African teams do not have shops or places to sell branded products such as replica shirts, cups, books, scarfs and many other products. Most clubs do not have any of these branded products yet across Africa millions of English and Spanish clubs are bought.


Lack of government support

Government support for football has to be understood within a context of competing needs especially in Africa. Investment in football is often left to the government, which cannot sustain support for the sport. Governments across Africa are finding it difficult to increasingly pour investment into football. My analysis shows two key reasons for this. Firstly, the governments simply do not have funds to invest in football. Most African economies are regressing and government expenditure in sport is slowly reducing. To better understand this: consider the following examples of 2008 sports-related revenues: Adidas and Nike reported revenues of $16.2 billion and $18.6 billion and the European football market had revenues of $23 billion. These astounding revenue numbers can be contrasted to the fact that in 2008, only 15 African states had a GDP higher that $15.6 billion.[xx] Secondly is the FIFA rule on non-interference which makes government skeptical about investing in a sport were they do not have much control. FIFA have a standing policy of non-interference by government or other external parties into football matters. The FIFA statutes state that each member shall manage its affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.[xxi] This rule was put in place to combat political and government interference in football matters especially in authoritarian regimes. Stories of imprisonment and torture of players and officials highlight the necessity of this rule necessary.[xxii] In Africa, where football is followed passionately; political interference is part of the game but covertly as the FIFA statutes forces government not to take over control of football matters. This rule has often been cited as a bullying tactic by FIFA to circumvent global democratic processes. Any talk of good governance in football is often viewed as an intrusion by FIFA into its established prerogatives of power, privilege, purse and space.[xxiii] To ensure that there is no interference there is a strict policy, which leads to suspension of countries whose governments, interferes in football matters. Football authorities are thus untouchable as Bob Munro, vice-chairman of the Kenyan Professional League argues that:

In many cases, ‘government interference’ is because of gross mismanagement and/or corruption in the national football association. But who suffers most when FIFA impose a ban? Sadly, it is the innocent clubs, coaches, players and referees. What judicial or other regulatory process in the world punishes the innocent victims?[xxiv]

Kenya was in 2004 banned by FIFA because the government had interfered with footballing matters after the high court tried to remove football leaders for various cases of corruption and maladministration including failure to produce annual audited accounts for four years and allegations of misappropriation of funds. Football clubs in the country had tried without success to lobby FIFA to intervene as the corruption worsened yet when the judiciary intervened they were quick to act. Government of Kenya was forced by FIFA to ignore its high court and reinstate the officials, which is curious given the wide-ranging debates on national sovereignty.


Dearth in talent in African leagues: Migration of African footballers

Cornelissen and Solberg[xxv] argue that ‘West European leagues, where processes of commercialisation have been most robust in recent years, constitute the epicenter of international football migration, with these leagues attracting most of the world’s athletic talent. Africa is a primary source for football flows to Western Europe, an aspect which is mostly viewed as exploitative and an extension of neo imperialist relations between the continent and its former colonial powers.’ Talented players tend to move towards football spaces that offer premium payment. Most poorly funded African leagues cannot compete with the type of financial rewards in rich leagues. Zimbabwe and Southern Africa in general have also suffered talent drain to the increasingly commercialized South African league.

They are over 30 Zimbabweans plying their trade in the various league structures in South Africa.[xxvi] All the best emerging talent from the country will at one time find themselves in South Africa. This negatively affects the nature of the competition in many Africa leagues. Devoid of their best talents, leagues such as in Zimbabwe are increasingly dependent on old players with very little talent emerging. There are few exceptions in countries such as Egypt and South Africa which can afford to pay high salaries thus retain local talent. Football labor thus flows from poor countries to the economically powerful leagues that provide attractive and huge salaries.[xxvii] The rather scary issue to emerge from commercialization and migration of football players is how very young boys are being taken from their countries to academies in parts of Europe where they are lure by dreams of millions and glamour yet most never make it in football. Studies[xxviii] have noted how this migration has accentuated an element of neo colonial exploitation. Jonathan Wilson writing for the Guardian in 2012 argued that: “Talk of a new slave trade is unhelpfully emotive, but there is an unpleasant traffic in vulnerable and often naive young players, and it seems hard to deny that the demands of the European market have shaped the tactical development of African football.”[xxix]

Lack of sponsorship and commercial endorsements

Football across the world has proved to be a highly sponsored arena with many corporations seeking to be associated with the game. European clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United have become global brands with massive support bases across the world. This growth in popularity and exposure has triggered high interest amongst sponsors as they seek international brand awareness for example in 2014 when Manchester United signed its seven-year, US$559 million contract with Chevrolet.[xxx] Sponsorship in football now runs into billions of dollars yet African clubs remain excluded from this exponential rise in sponsorship. In 2013, the Nigerian league had no title sponsor, which leaves the team in a precarious situation. Except for a few notable exceptions such as Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in South Africa, the vast majority of clubs on the continent do not have huge sponsorship deals. Some of these clubs have huge followings, which usually are the main attraction for corporate sponsors but lack of transparency; maladministration and general corrupt tendencies in most African football spaces have meant little sponsorship. Sponsors have also tended to have vulteristic tendencies where they have provided little money to desperate teams and leagues that have little choice but to accept what is being offered. Most leagues do not have proper professional structures thus do not have any idea on the worth of their brands. In Europe sponsorship has grown from kits, shirts and now to naming rights of stadiums and training complexes. African clubs do not have stadiums to sell name rights; very few have kit sponsors and the shirt sponsorship deals remain very low in terms of value.

[i] “Soccerex Report” accessed 4 October 2016 Chttp://www.supporters-direct.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Sandlanders-Soccerex-Report.pdf

[ii] Charles Rukuni and Evelyn Groenink, Killing Soccer in Africa. FAIR Transnational Investigation (2010), accessed 26 August 2016, https://fairreporters.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/fair_2010_soccer_proof7.pdf

[iii] Arnold Pannenborg. Football in Africa: Observations about Political, Financial, Cultural and Religious Influences (NCDO Publication Series Sport and Development, no 7, 2010)

[iv] Robert Price. “Politics and Culture in Contemporary Ghana: The Big-Man Small-Boy Syndrome.” Journal of African Studies, 1 no 2 (1974): 173

[v] Arnold Pannenborg. Football in Africa: Observations about Political, Financial, Cultural and Religious Influences (NCDO Publication Series Sport and Development, no 7, 2010)

[vi] Thabani Khumalo, “Football’s Rotten Core must be Excised.” City Press (South Africa) April 7 2013, Sports Section

[vii] Charles Rukuni and Evelyn Groenink, Killing Soccer in Africa. FAIR Transnational Investigation (2010), accessed 26 August 2016, https://fairreporters.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/fair_2010_soccer_proof7.pdf

[viii] John Sugden and Alan Tomlinson. Badfellas: FIFA Family at War. Edinburgh. (London: Mainstream Publishing, 2003)

[ix] Brian Oliver. “Making a Killing out of African Football.” The Guardian October 24 2010, Online version, accessed 8 November 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/oct/24/corruption-african-football-fifa

[x] Ibid

[xi] Arnold Pannenborg. Football in Africa: Observations about Political, Financial, Cultural and Religious Influences (NCDO Publication Series Sport and Development, no 7, 2010): 14

[xii]“The Challenges facing African Football,” accessed 23 October 2016 http://www.theafricareport.com/News-Analysis/the-challenges-facing-african-football.html

[xiii]“Stadiums call for Attention” accessed 4 November 2016 http://www.thepatriot.co.zw/old_posts/stadiums-call-for-attention/

[xiv] “Ghana’s Struggle for Soccer Honours” accessed 4 November 2016 http://www.panapress.com/Poor-stadiums-handicap-Ghana-s-struggle-for-soccer-honours–13-458547-18-lang4-index.html

[xv] Arnold Pannenborg. Football in Africa: Observations about Political, Financial, Cultural and Religious Influences (NCDO Publication Series Sport and Development, no 7, 2010): 19

[xvi] Richard Vokes. “Arsenal in Bugamba: The rise of English Premier League football in Uganda.” Anthropology Today 26 no. 3 (2010): 12

[xvii] Leah Komakoma. An Investigation into Fan Identity among Supporters of the English Soccer Premier League in Lusaka, Zambia, Masters Thesis Presented at School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, 2005.

[xviii] Richard Vokes. “Arsenal in Bugamba: The rise of English Premier League football in Uganda.” Anthropology Today 26 no. 3 (2010): 10

[xix]“Reasons for Poor Stadium Attendance” accessed 13 August 2016 http://www.soccerladuma.co.za/news/articles/categories/get-published/reasons-for-poor-stadiumattendance/194423

[xx] Eugene Augustus Cooper, Jr. “The African Football Development Model.” Impumelelo: The Interdisciplinary Electronic Journal of African Sports 7 (2011), accessed 3 November 2016 https://www.ohio.edu/sportsafrica/journal/volume7/cooper.html

[xxi] Callum Farell. 2013. “FIFA’s Non-interference Rule is Holding Back Serious Investigations.” HITC Sport January 22 2012, Online version, accessed 13 October 2016 http://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2013/05/24/fifas-non-interference-rule-is-holding-back-serious-investigatio/

[xxii] For instance in countries such as Iraq (under Sadam Hussein) where the president’s son was once the football association president athletes were tortured and beaten for poor performance like the Olympic team in 2000

[xxiii] Thabani Khumalo, “Football’s Rotten Core must be Excised.” City Press (South Africa) April 7 2013, Sports Section

[xxiv] Brian Oliver. “Making a Killing out of African Football.” The Guardian October 24 2010, Online version, accessed 8 November 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/oct/24/corruption-african-football-fifa

[xxv] Scarlett Cornelissen and Eirik Solberg. “Sport Mobility and Circuits of Power: The Dynamics of Football Migration in Africa and the 2010 World Cup.” Politikon 34, no. 3 (2007): 295

[xxvi] “Talent Drain Stunts Soccer Development” accessed 28 August 2016 http://www.thepatriot.co.zw/old_posts/talent-drain-stunts-soccer-development/

[xxvii] Joseph Maguire and Robert Pearton. “Global Sport and the Migration Patterns of France ‘98 World Cup Finals Players: Some Preliminary Observations.” Soccer and Society 1, no. 1 (2000): 179

[xxviii] See: Bale John. “Three Geographies of African Footballer Migration: Patterns, Problems and Postcoloniality.” In Football in Africa: Conflict, Conciliation and Community, ed. Garry Armstrong and Richard Giulianotti, (New York: Palgrave, 2004); Paul Darby, Gerard Akindes and Matthew Kirwin. “African Football Labour Migration to Europe and the Role of Football Academies.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 31, no 2 (2007): 143–161.

[xxix] Jonathan Wilson. 2012. The Question: Is African Football Progressing, Sports Section, Online version, accessed 4 November 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2012/jan/17/the-question-is-african-football-progressing

[xxx]“Most valuable deals in soccer,” accessed 23 November 2016 http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2016/05/11/the-most-valuable-sponsorship-deals-insoccer/#12b04a60705f

How corruption fuels human trafficking in Zimbabwe

Introduction: Nature and prevalence of human trafficking in Zimbabwe

When it comes to human trafficking Zimbabwe is a triple factor: according to a study by UNODC and SADC in 2005, Southern African countries such as Zimbabwe are: i) sources; ii) transit countries for persons trafficked to Asia, Europe and North America; iii) a destination country for persons trafficked from West, Central and Southern Africa, the Horn of Africa and Asia. According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking generates profits of up to $32 billion worldwide.[i] The paper provides a nuanced analysis of how corruption influences, impacts and drive human trafficking as well as hamper anti trafficking efforts. It highlights how political and economic factors are inimical to the fight against trafficking. The United Nations Protocol on Trafficking defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by means of a threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power, a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. This definition places corruption at the heart of trafficking. Trafficking is not a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe where even in pre-colonial societies chiefdoms and kingdoms constantly raided each other for slaves. Human trafficking has to be understood is a process fueled by corruption and greed. Corruption in its various guises has become a part of everyday life in Zimbabwe (Transparency International). Pervasive nature of corruption poses serious challenges in the protection of vulnerable populations. The current experiences with trafficking from Zimbabwe have to be understood within a context of socio-economic upheaval post 2000 which has witnessed unprecedented suffering of the masses characterized by high unemployment, cash and food shortages, corruption and multiple economic problems. This context has provided an intersection of push factors which makes Zimbabwe a perfect breeding ground for traffickers who use promises and lies to lure unsuspecting boys, girls, men and women. 

Understanding corruption in Zimbabwe

Corruption in Zimbabwe is a function of power. Foucault (1980) provides an analysis of power as a decentred phenomenon thus in such a situation corruption is not the preserve of political elites but rather it is endemic in all relationships in society. In Zimbabwe corruption is evident in all aspects of life for example reports of bribes to traffic police, paying to get a job or basic services such as drivers license or passport. It is the ‘use’ and not only abuse of power that needs further analysis in the Zimbabwean context. Islam (2001) argues that the ‘use of power’ as the ‘deployment of strategy’ can also be point of analysis for corruption. ‘Use of power’ can also be interpreted as ‘use of strategy’ and in the case of Zimbabwe, corruption has been used as a survival strategy by many in different positions at the expense of the poor who often have to pay more for many basic services. This is true when discussing human trafficking as the actors involved include a multiple people in positions of influence who use this power to gain in illicit dealings. There are many types of corruption and the table explains these various forms of corruption and how they relate to human trafficking in Zimbabwe.

Type of corruption Definition Human trafficking scenarios in Zimbabwe
Administrative Illicit payments required from users by civil servants for the implementation of existing regulations, policies and laws. Civil servants working at border posts in Zimbabwe and its neighboring countries have been caught recently in corruption scandals involving people including children crossing borders without proper papers.[ii]
Petty corruption Small acts, or rent-taking actions, by civil servants. Bribery, influencing, and gift giving are sometimes seen as different forms of petty corruption. Police and law enforcement agencies have also been implicated at borders for turning a blind eye to trafficking and illegal border crossings.[iii]
Graft Small acts, or rent-taking actions, by civil servants. Bribery, influencing, and gift giving are sometimes seen as different forms of petty corruption. Use of resources, time or facilities by a staff member (without a transaction with an external person). Often used interchangeably with corruption.
Influencing Forcing a decision in one’s favour Political lobbying is a form of influencing and is legitimate, but secretive contacts or suspicion of favouritism or influence that are suspected to be disproportionate to public interest may be considered as corrupt.
Bureaucratic corruption   Wide constituency who pay money to get in or get on. Also a moneyless form where officials give relatives and other persons jobs that they would not otherwise obtain, also called patronage.
Political corruption Often conflated with grand or high-level corruption: the misuse of entrusted power by political leaders. More specific meaning is corruption within the political or electoral process This relates to the use of resources, machinery, personnel, and authority to facilitate trafficking and evade arrest. It can also be indirect in that corruption and bad governance can act as push factor that leaves people vulnerable to traffickers.[iv]
Political patronage

(clientelism) and nepotism

Government resources are directed to patrons, clients, family or ethnic clan of office holders. This is an indirect factor that makes the majority of people vulnerable to traffickers. In post 2000 Zimbabwe examples include land reform, destruction of illegal homes (Operation Murambatsvina), missing diamond revenues and many other forms of government corruption, which have decimated the economy leaving people desperate for any opportunity to earn money.
State capture Private payments to public officials, and the ‘capture’ of their area of jurisdiction, in order to affect laws, rules, decrees, regulations or capture resources for example contracts. The lack of political will to fight trafficking and enforce the Trafficking in Persons Act (Chapter 10:20) of 2014 is problematic and points to a state either incapable or worse complicit in human trafficking


High level corruption The misuse of high public office, public resources or public responsibility for private, personal or group, gain This term is often used interchangeably with grand corruption, or endemic corruption. Across the world politically connected individuals and some in high offices are involved in various forms of human trafficking.

Source: Bracking (2010)

Power, actors and survivors

When it comes to discussing survivors, the 2014 UNODC Global Report highlights that sexual exploitation is by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking (79%), followed by forced labour (18%). Zimbabwe does not have comprehensive statistics on trafficking thus it is difficult to provide an exact gendered categorization of the victims of trafficking. What is clear from emerging reports and regional patterns of trafficking is that women and girls are at most risk because there is a lot of money in sex trafficking. Brusca (2010) argues that the demands of sex industry is increasing and so is the trafficking of women and children to fulfill this demand. What underlies this sex industry is the partriachial norms that narrowly define women as sexual objects meant to fulfil the needs and fantasies of men. The most visible case of trafficking in Zimbabwe outlined in Box 1 below shows that women and sexual exploitation is rife though other forms of slavery and trafficking are not documented. This case of women trafficked to Kuwait shows how powerful political figures such as ambassadors are often involved in trafficking. They also usually work with locals who are part of the trafficking rings. Trafficking continues to rise because of how power leads to corrupt individuals circumventing rules as this case highlights.


A Zimbabwean court has charged a Kuwait embassy official in Harare with human trafficking after 200 local women were allegedly lured to the Gulf country before they were turned into slaves. Brenda Avril May, a secretary for former Kuwait ambassador to Zimbabwe Ahmed Al-Jeeran, was accused of luring the women to that country with promises of jobs. May allegedly facilitated the processing of visas for the victims. Prosecutors say the women were then sold before being forced into prostitution and other menial jobs on arrival in Kuwait. According to State media reports, several Zimbabwean women are stranded in Kuwait after they were misled by the alleged syndicate to travel to that country. The victims were reportedly lured through advertisements in local media and were promised hefty salaries, good working conditions, air tickets and education. On arrival in Kuwait, the victims were allegedly placed under “house arrest” and were not paid salaries but the money was wired to the traffickers in Zimbabwe as payment. The syndicates also demanded ransom from the victim’s families before they could release them. Meanwhile, prosecutors claimed Al -Jeeran was the ring- leader of the syndicate. Al-Jeeran, using his powers as the ambassador, allegedly connived with May and splashed adverts for nurse aide vacancies in Kuwait.

Source: http://www.theafricareport.com/Southern-Africa/200-zimbabwean-women-trafficked-to-kuwait.html


Porous borders and corrupt officials

Zimbabwean borders remain porous posing serious challenges for any measures to police and combat human trafficking. Dodo and Dodo (2012:148) argue that:

…young men and women are being smuggled out of the country through Mukumbura border area, Mt Darwin via Binya13 road to Mozambique at an average rate of 6 to 10 people per month, Sun-yet-Sen border area, Kezi into Botswana at an average rate of 10 to 12 people per month while those border-jumping through Beit-bridge into South Africa go as high as 15 to 20 people per month.

This is all possible because of corrupt officials at these ports of entry. Police and security agents working at these ports of entry have also been compromised. Porous borders pose a national security threat for the Zimbabwean state. South Africa has also seen increased debates on the porous nature of its borders which has serious implications not only for the trafficking of humans but also drugs and weapons.[v] Any measures anti trafficking measures in Zimbabwe has to make the security and integrity of borders and points of entry a central issue. 

Impact of corruption on anti trafficking measures

The response of the Zimbabwean government to human trafficking has largely inadequate given the scope of the challenge facing the country and region. The United States of America embassy in Zimbabwe summarises the lack of government in Zimbabwe in anti-trafficking as:

The Government of Zimbabwe does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. While the government passed the “Trafficking in Persons Act” in June 2014, it failed to ensure prohibitions under the law were consistent with the international definition of trafficking in persons under the 2000 UN TIP Protocol; rather, contrary to international law, the 2014 act serves in effect to prohibit transportation-based crimes…Official complicity in trafficking crimes remained a concern. The government made minimal efforts to protect trafficking victims, instead relying on NGOs to identify and assist victims. In January 2015, it established an inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee; however, it did not report on any actions conducted by the committee during the year.[vi]

The main thrust of this paper is to show how corruption is not only a facilitating factor in human trafficking but also highlight how it negatively affects anti trafficking measure. Human trafficking has captured political space from 2015 with reports of women trafficked to Kuwait yet Dodo and Dodo (2012) highlighted how it was reported to be rising post 2000 in Zimbabwe. Lack of government action needs to be understood in a context where corruption has affected the ability of national institutions to protect citizens. The economic malaise post 2000 has seen the increase in illicit dealings at all levels which affects social protection and leaves those without money vulnerable to abuse. Traffickers use monetary incentives to gain local recruiters, circumvent laws and evade detection and arrest. The lack of government will in fighting human tracking can be explained by 1) involvement of political actors or cronies in human trafficking; 2) lack of expertise, capacity and finances to implement anti trafficking measures; 3) trafficking is not an important political or election issue which can bring votes. The first reason directly relates to corruption. Corruption is a major factor in institutional and financial failure of the Zimbabwean states thus it is indirectly related to the other two explanations.


Bracking, S. 2010. Governance and Corruption. A4ID Annual Law & International Development Training Programme 27th November 2010 College of Law, London.

Brusca, C.2011. Palermo Protocol: The First Ten Years after Adoption, Global Security Studies 22 (3): 8-20

Dodo, O and Dodo, G. 2012. Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe: An Impediment to National Development, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 2(7): 146-150

Foucault, M. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977. London: Harvester Press.

Islam, S. 2001. The making of a corrupt Society: An understanding of the Sociology of Corruption in the context of state-people relationship in Bangladesh. TASA 2001 Conference, The University of Sydney, 13-15 December 2001.


[ii]http://www.myzimbabwe.co.zw/news/6845-immigration-officials-arrested-for-corruption-at-beitbridge-border-post.html; http://www.fairplanet.org/story/corruption-smuggling-and-border-jumping-the-beitbridge-border-post/



[v] http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-Opinion-sc-Columnist-byo-58303.html

[vi] http://harare.usembassy.gov/reports/2015-trafficking-in-persons-report.html

Farai Mutondoro, Manase Chiweshe and Mary Jane Ncube Overview The need for economic sovereignty and development has forced many countries in the Global South to embark on the path to promote national economic policies encouraging biofuel production as well as sign on to deals involving large-scale land deals for biofuel production with both local domestic […]

via The Impact of Biofuel induced large scale Land Deals and Land Corruption on Women. The Case of Chisumbanje Ethanol Project — Changing the Governance and Policy Narrative

ICT and Africa’s Development

Working at a university whose thrust is technology it is sometimes surprising to come across ignorance of the nexus between technology and socio-economic development. For some our concern with poverty alleviation and human development is somewhere not relevant to the university’s mandate thus my interest in how ICT can and is fostering development. The spread of information and communication technology (ICT) across the continent has continued at a rapid pace. In this blog I analyse the gaps, opportunities and challenges of ICT development in sub Saharan Africa. Information and communication technologies, broadly defined, facilitate the creation, storage, management and dissemination of information.[i] Africa has been hard hit with poverty and disease and this has had an immense effect on the quality of social, cultural and political lives of its people.[ii] In this day and age, the role of technology [1]in improving the lives of the people cannot be underestimated. Most people, including the minorities, more than ever before are now buying goods and services online, sending messages across the globe to loved ones, sending emails to donor agencies for support and receiving instant replies. Technology has thus opened new spaces for the vulnerable and underprivileged to have their voices heard. The problem however is that for most African governments’ investment in ICT infrastructure is not a top priority since there are other more serious problems such as education, health and hunger. Balancing social service provision and ICT development are not incompatible as long as national governments choose carefully the types of technology that will directly and indirectly positively influence the lives of the poor.

Defining ICT and development

ICT is both the vehicle for communication flow and a way of processing information. Vehicles used for communication include old and new technologies. Old technologies such as newspapers as well as radio and television have the advantages of low cost, requiring little skill to operate and the potential to be highly relevant to the needs of the users in terms of local information delivered in local languages.[iii] The major problem with these types of technologies is that in Africa they are easily censured by the government and used as a propaganda tool to prop up corrupt regimes. The new, more advanced forms of ICT include network computers; satellite sourced communication, wireless technology and the Internet. A feature of these technologies is their capacity to be networked and interlinked to form a ‘massive infrastructure of interconnected telephone services, standardized computing hardware, the Internet, radio and television, which reach into every corner of the globe’.[iv] Development is a rather contested and value laden concept. There are various dimensions of development that include economic, sustainable and human development. Of interest to this paper is human development. Human development entails much more than the rise and fall of national incomes.[v] It is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive lives in accordance with their interests; it is about expanding people’s freedom of choice by building human capabilities.[vi] It is about providing access to resources needed to sustain a decent standard of living, to lead long healthy lives, to be knowledgeable and to participate in the life of the community.[vii]

 ICT in Africa

The development and use of ICT in Africa has been hampered by many challenges that include lack of resalable/affordable ICT infrastructure, lack of electricity, low computer literacy, on line language barriers and deficiencies in ICT skills. The key factors responsible for the different ICT take-up rates in Africa are: per capita income, language, levels of education (illiteracy), internal digital divide within the African continent, restrictive regulatory framework, poverty, the lack of infrastructure and the rural concentration and dispersed nature of country’s population.[viii] Thus the lower a country’s per capita income, the less likely its population is to have access to both old and new information and communication technologies.[ix] ICT infrastructure in Africa has increased over the past years, in spite of the challenges of low population density, low incomes and large rural populations.[x] Particularly noteworthy is the virtual explosion of mobile phones in many African countries, which surpassed 200 million subscribers in early 2007 and continues to grow at higher rates than any other region. This has been particularly beneficial for rural areas.[xi] It is estimated that there are around 400,000 localities in Sub-Saharan Africa, of which 99 percent are villages. Most of Africa’s fixed telephone lines are concentrated in only six economies – Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia – which account for almost 80% of all fixed lines on the continent. Even mobile penetration rates vary widely.[xii] In 2006 South Africa had the highest penetration rate with 69.9 percent (31 million subscribers), whereas the DRC in tenth place had a penetration rate of just 4.3 percent (2.6 million subscribers). Similarly, four countries account for almost 60 percent of Internet users in Africa.[xiii] Low domestic PC usage has lead to relatively slow rates of Internet and broadband uptake across Africa – by the end of 2006 there were only 44 million Internet users and 1 million broadband users (3.8 and 0.4 percent respectively of the world total).[xiv] With the recent introduction of wireless broadband and 3G , along with increased use of the Internet on mobile phones in many countries In urban areas this situation is changing quite rapidly.[xv]

Relationship between ICT and development

Research has shown an indelible relationship between ICT and development.[xvi] ICT alone however, is not sufficient to reach a country’s development goals; the social aspects of information systems such as training are equally, if not more, important for development.[xvii] It is often not the lack of access to ICT that is problematic, but rather the wrong mindset of the role regarding ICT on the part of the policy makers.[xviii] ICT brings about new possibilities of information processing, storage and transmission. Technology affects every industry and every service and has penetrated society as a whole. Castells refers to the idea of a new socio-economic organisation.[xix] This organisation is characterised by ICTs as “roots of new productivity sources, of new organisational forms, and of the formation of a global economy.”[xx] The role of ICTs is not to solve social problems but rather the prerequisite for social and economic development.[xxi] Effective deployment of ICTs can affect human development in two ways. First, since ICT as a sector of economic activity impacts the overall economic growth of a nation.[xxii] Secondly, ICT as an enabler for enhancing human productivity influences human development through access to information knowledge and enlarging choices.[xxiii] ICT helps in alleviation of poverty, enhancing education and improving healthcare.[xxiv]

ICT contributes to economic growth through: (1) increasing productivity across all sectors; (2) facilitating market expansion beyond borders to harvest economies of scale; (3) lowering costs of and facilitating access to services (notably in administration, education, health and banking); (4) providing access to research; (5) development of ICT products and services; (6) contributing to better governance, as a prerequisite to growth, through increased participation, accountability and transparency.[xxv] Economic growth does not however translate into poverty reduction or human development. In many cases, exclusion on grounds of rural isolation, ethnicity, language, religion or gender add to the hurdles of overcoming the income, infrastructural and market barriers faced by the poor.[xxvi] Economic research suggests that the contribution of ICT to pro-poor growth is dependent not on ICT infrastructure per se but on the role of ICT in supporting pro-poor initiatives.[xxvii] Effective poverty reduction requires targeted pro-poor policies to provide infrastructure (including ICT), to strengthen physical access to markets and to invest in education and health.[xxviii] As soon as ICT become affordable to low-income users, new employment, micro-entrepreneurial and social development opportunities emerge.

Community media plays a key role in the production and dissemination of information. People at local radio stations or telecentres can download relevant information from the Internet, adapt it to the local context, encourage people’s participation in debates and contribute to the agenda-setting of a local community.[xxix] Sharing of information as well as encouraging increased participation, particularly by the poor, enhances empowerment and transparency – both of which play a key role in improving governance,- which is fundamental to sustainable development. ICT provides the poor with opportunities to receive up-to-date information or the ability to communicate more easily or achieve an enhanced ability to communicate with others.[xxx] The ICT-driven approach is often underpinned by the economic assumption that better information improves how economic resources are allocated.[xxxi] It is a fundamental axiom of orthodox economics that the capacity of an economy to operate efficiently depends on how well markets work.[xxxii] In most developing countries there are virtually no sources of information regarding market prices and other production related information In isolated rural villages,.[xxxiii] ICT and village knowledge centres offer the possibility of improving the life and well-being of rural communities; not only by enhancing markets and generating knowledge-based livelihoods, but also by furthering healthcare, education, government entitlements, social cohesion and societal reform.[xxxiv]

Concluding remarks

The use of ICTs as a tool for economic growth and poverty reduction is a multidimensional challenge. With regards to human development It is therefore not sufficient to address it only within an economic or technical context. It also requires political, educational, cultural, scientific, legal, regulatory and financial attention. ICT is not a magic bullet that will miraculously get Africa out of its poverty trap. It however offers a viable vehicle towards achieving human development on the continent. The spread of affordable, relevant and sustainable technologies into rural communities remains an integral factor in realising that the voices of the marginalised are heard.

[i] Baryamureeba, V. 2007: ICT as an Engine for Uganda’s Economic Growth: The Role of and Opportunities for Makerere University in Strengthening the Role of ICT in Development, Migga, K.M et al (eds) Kampala:Fountain Publishers

[ii] Langmia, K. 2005. The role of ICT in the economic development of Africa: The case of South Africa, International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), ,Vol. 2, Issue 4, pp. 144156.

[iii] Baryamureeba, V. 2007: ICT as an Engine for Uganda’s Economic Growth: The Role of and Opportunities for Makerere University in Strengthening the Role of ICT in Development, Migga, K.M et al (eds) Kampala:Fountain Publishers

[iv] Ibid.

[v] UNDP Human development report 2006- Beyond scarcity: power, poverty and global water crisis United Nation Development Programme, New York, 2006

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Curtain, R. 2004. Information and Communications Technologies and Development: Help or Hindrance? Report Commissioned by the Australian Agency for International Development.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] ICT in Africa: Boosting Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction, 10th Meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum in Tokyo on 7-8 April 2008 by Gerster Consulting under a mandate from the Africa Partnership Forum Support Unit.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Chacko, J. G. 2005. Paradise Lost? Reinstating the Human Development Agenda in ICT Policies and Strategies: View from Practice. Information Technology for Development, Vol 11 (1), pp 97-99

[xvii] Roode, D., Speight, H., Pollock, M. & Webber, R. 2004. It’s Not The Digital Divide– It’s The Socio-Techno

Divide!, Presentation to the 12th European Conference on Information Systems, 14th June 2004, Turku.

[xviii] Ibid.                                                                                                                          

[xix] Castells, M. 1999. Information Technology, Globalization and Social Development. United Nations Research Institute For Social Development, Discussion Paper No. 114, September 1999.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] UNDP, 2005. Regional Human Development Report Realizing the Millennium Development Goals: Promoting ICT for Human Development in Asia, United Nation Development Programme, India

[xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Chacko, J. G. 2005. Paradise Lost? Reinstating the Human Development Agenda in ICT Policies and Strategies: View from Practice. Information Technology for Development, Vol 11 (1), pp 97-99

[xxv]ICT in Africa: Boosting Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction, 10th Meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum in Tokyo on 7-8 April 2008 by Gerster Consulting under a mandate from the Africa Partnership Forum Support Unit.

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Ibid.

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] Baryamureeba, V. 2007: ICT as an Engine for Uganda’s Economic Growth: The Role of and Opportunities for Makerere University in Strengthening the Role of ICT in Development, Migga, K.M et al (eds) Kampala:Fountain Publishers

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Baryamureeba, V. 2007: ICT as an Engine for Uganda’s Economic Growth: The Role of and Opportunities for Makerere University in Strengthening the Role of ICT in Development, Migga, K.M et al (eds) Kampala:Fountain Publishers

[xxxiii] Ibid.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

A critique of rights based approaches to universal treatment in the era of powerful global pharmaceutical companies    



Debates about human rights and HIV/ AIDS often assume that universal access to primary health care will improve the multiple health burdens of those infected and affected by the pandemic. Yet, universal access itself is informed by drug markets and market economies based on motives of profit which may hold poor outcomes for marginalised populations. Academic and social commentary debates on human rights often view multinational conglomerates as more powerful than nation states. These global players are positioned as unaccountable to any international polity even while conducting their business within very flexible boundaries of market laws. This paper will argue that universal access does not always benefit those in marginalised positions in society. The paper questions the humanity and morality of having drug companies making huge profits whilst poor women in the Third World continue to suffer. Universal access will remain rhetoric until and unless we can bring to account the work of large pharmaceutical companies.

Global and African Experiences of Universal Access to HIV Treatment

The UN General Assembly Special Session in 2006 which endorsed universal access did not put a figure on what counted as universal access, either in terms of numbers treated or the proportion of eligible people reached. In developed world health systems, universal access is generally considered to mean treatment coverage of around 80% of the population. About 3 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2007. Despite progress, antiretroviral therapy coverage remains low: only 31% of people in need were receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2007 (World Health Organisation 2008).

International drug companies and the control of HIV medication

Warren (2000) notes that, ‘AIDS policy is now a key world commodity—right up there with shiploads of computers, crude oil and wheat.’ Global pharmaceutical companies are more worried about profits and less about human live. Treatment that has transformed HIV from a death sentence to chronic illness is out of reach for the majority of vulnerable groups especially rural women in Africa who remain the major victims of the pandemic. Walker (2005) notes that in South Africa the cost of ARVs can exceed US$10,000 per patient, per year. This cost plays a role in the limited access HIV-infected South Africans have to the medications especially when only 19% of the people have medical insurance (Kaiser Family Foundation 1999). The coverage of AVR treatment in Africa stood at 28% in 2005 (Walker 2005). In 1997 thirty nine United States corporations took the South African government over passing a law that would allow them to make generic ARV drugs. The corporations dropped the case in April 2001 but at the cost of 400 000 lives that were lost during that period (Kasper 2001).

The control of ARV drugs have meant that the corporations have a monopoly of the market thus can ask for exorbitant prices. Drug companies justify the need for high drug prices by arguing that the money goes into further research and development. However a report by the consumer health organization Families USA in 2000 refutes the pharmaceutical industry’s claim that high and increasing drug prices are needed to sustain research and development. The report documents that drug companies are spending more than twice as much on marketing, advertising, and administration than they do on research and development; that drug company profits, which are higher than all other industries, exceed research and development expenditures; and that drug companies provide lavish compensation packages for their top executives.

Among the nine pharmaceutical companies examined in the report – Merck, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pharmacia, Abbott Laboratories, American Home Products, Eli Lilly, Schering-Plough, and Allergan – all but one (Eli Lilly) spent more than twice as much on marketing, advertising, and administration than they did on research and development, and Lilly spent more than one and one-half times as much. Six out of the nine companies made more money in net profits than they spent on research and development. The report also documents profligate spending on compensation packages for top pharmaceutical executives. The executive with the highest compensation package in the year 2000, exclusive of unexercised stock options, was William C. Steere, Jr., Pfizer’s Chairman, who made $40.2 million (Families USA 2000).

Wagenberg (2009) notes that about a third of the world’s population, or roughly two billion people, lack even the most basic access to essential medicines. Each year an estimated 25 million individuals, 10 million of them children, die of treatable and preventable diseases. A large share of those deaths could be averted by low-cost access to pharmaceuticals developed and patented by U.S. universities. University patents are found in a quarter of HIV/AIDS drugs and a fifth of high-impact drugs approved between 1988 and 2005. In 2001, a group of Yale students learned that d4T (stavudine), an HIV antiretroviral drug patented by Yale and licensed to Bristol-Myers Squibb, was being sold at outrageous prices overseas, blocking off access for HIV patients living in South Africa and other developing countries.

Rights based approaches to universal HIV treatment

The right to life is a vital right and foundation for all human freedoms. Whilst the fight focus on the internal weaknesses in the health systems of Third World countries is important and vital, the cost of ARVs remains the biggest obstacle to universal access. Human rights frameworks that demand on national governments to respect the individual liberties have to be equally vocal on the cost of ARVs. International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO, 2004) highlights that human rights are fundamental to any response to HIV and AIDS. Human rights and public health share the common goal of promoting and protecting the well-being of all individuals.

None of the human rights treaties expressly identifies HIV/AIDS, but all human rights elaborated in these treaties can promote accountability in HIV/AIDS related issues. Human rights relevant to HIV/AIDS identified in these treaties, and elaborated by other documents include (but are not limited to) the right to non-discrimination and equality, to health, to liberty and security of the person, to privacy, to seek, receive and impart information, to marry and found a family, to work, and the right to freedom of movement, association, and expression (ICASO 2004:3 – 4).

There is a serious need to deconstruct and reconstruct the whole concept of human rights. The whole debate on human rights has centred on national governments in Third World and internal African affairs. The Eurocentric, post colonial depiction of an uncivilised Africa still trampling on its people has dominated and guided the human rights discourse (Craddock 2000). This discourse blames all of Africa’s problems sorely on internal affairs without trying to understand that the biggest threat to human rights in Africa is neo liberal policies that leave the poor at the mercy of the markets. This is the debate the United Nations has failed to engage in. Why, if access to health is a universal fundamental right, are drug companies allowed to operate without much control? How long can we allow a system that puts more emphasis on ‘value-you’ and not values? The problem is that much writing that seeks to bring these discussions is sidelined as anti liberal romantics. It is easier to look at how African governments have failed to ensure access to treatment for their people.


We have a situation under global neoliberal system in which profits are more important than human life. Where drug companies decide who lives or dies; where the colour of skin or being born on the ‘wrong’ continent is a death sentence. In such an era what human rights are we then talking about? Large pharmaceutical companies operate behind the guise of a free market which protects their monopoly of a product that could save millions of lives. Trade rules on patents negotiated under the World Trade Organisation. These rules make it impossible for developing countries to make generic drugs which leave major pharmaceutical companies with huge market shares. They protect these market shares and profits regardless of how many lives are lost. Human rights debates have to be broadened so that questions can be asked about how companies controlling a billion dollar industry can be allowed to reward their executives and spend lavishly in advertising whilst Africa is on fire.



Craddock, S. 2000: Disease, social identity, and risk: rethinking the geography of AIDS, Transactions, 25(2): 153-168.


Families USA, 2000: Off the Charts: Pay, Profits and Spending by Drug Companies, http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/offthecharts6475.pdf [Accessed on 24 February 2010]


International Council of AIDS Service Organizations, 2004: HIV and AIDS and Human Rights in a Nutshell, Toronto, ICASO


Jones, P.S. 2004: When ‘Development’ Devastates: Donor Discourses, Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment in Africa and Rethinking the Landscape of Development in Third World Quarterly, 25: 385-404


Kasper, T. 2001: Developing Countries Must Stand Firm on People Over Patents, South Centre Bulletin 11, 30 April


Wagenberg, M. 2009: Harvard’s patent policy limits access to drugs by world’s poor, Harvard Law Record


Walker, M. 2005: Assessing the Barriers to Universal Antiretroviral Treatment Access for HIV/AIDS in South Africa in Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, 15: 193-214

Warren, P.N. 2000: AIDS and the World Bank: Global Blackmail? A&U Magazine, June 27

Think Tanks in Africa


Though the global ideas industry is growing rapidly, the African think tank community remains small.[i] While Asia and Latin America have experienced sustained growth in the number of new think tanks, Africa has experienced a decline in recent years.[ii] There is a large disparity in the number of think tanks in Africa compared to other parts of the world. Out of the 6305 think tanks, 1815 are located in the United States while only 503 are located in Africa.[iii] Out of the 503 think tanks located in Africa, only 45 are located in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria.[iv] This situation regrettable given the important role played by think tanks is policy formulation, implementation and monitoring. Think tanks are at the forefront of promoting specific types of knowledge and policies that shape socio-global phenomenon. If Africa is not producing its own knowledge our policies and systems will be shaped by hegemonic ideas of the global north. This discussion paper offers an overview of think tanks within Africa showing their efficacy in providing home grown solutions to various challenges facing the continent. it is imperative to note here that it is not a matter of numbers but having think tanks that speak to and responds to the dreams of an Africa we want.

What are think tanks?

Think tanks can be defined as organizations or individuals that conduct research and engage in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economy, science or technology issues, industrial or business policies, or military advice.[v] They are usually non profit making entities funded by governments (especially Western), advocacy groups, or businesses, or derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.[vi] Over time think tanks have become main policy actors in democratic societies, assuring a pluralistic, open and accountable process of policy analysis, research, decision-making and evaluation.[vii] They are in essence national centres of excellence.[viii] One of the most reputable think tanks is the United Nations University, based in Tokyo, whose role is to “research into the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations and its agencies”.[ix]

Think Tanks in Africa

Think tanks have emerged in Africa over time as a response to the many challenges facing the continent. The growing ‘African solutions to African problems’ movement think tanks within the region are turning their attention internally and providing a unique insider’s perspective.[x] As Africa fights endemic problems of food shortages and economic stagnation, the continent now requires properly structured think tanks that will come up with indigenous solutions. Countries in Africa have tried think tanking and are doing well. A good example is Egypt that has not only set out a national think tank but has managed to use its recommendations in developing the nation.[xi] The think tank — the Information and Decision Support Centre — although established by the government of Egypt enjoys institutional autonomy and intellectual independence and brings together elite academic professors, academics and retired diplomats.[xii] IDSC carries out research, disseminate findings, and creates societal debate on key policy issues as well as developing regional and international partnerships.

The African Institute of South Africa (AISA), a non-profit organization created in 1960 in South Africa with the intent of providing research, training, and ideas to help aid the rest of the continent.[xiii] Organizations like AISA provide a much-needed perspective: while many groups and scholars look at the foreign policy of countries such as the United States and China towards Africa, very few highlight the foreign policy of African countries with regards to the rest of the world.[xiv] There are other think tanks such as African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) which was established in 1962 on Dakar, Senegal by the United Nations as a Pan-African institution meant to advise African leaders on issues regarding economic and social development on the continent. These think tanks are involved in various projects and funded mainly by western donors. Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, set up various state-supported think tanks in the 1960s such as the Cocoa Research Institute and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. By the 1990s, a variety of policy research centers sprang up in Africa set up by academics who sought to influence public policy in Ghana. The input of such centers has become significant in the public’s discourse on policy issues in contemporary Ghana. Among the top African think tanks, South African Institute for International Affairs based in Johannesburg leads.[xv] Out of the three others that follow, only the Center for the Development of Social Science Research (CODESRIA) is based in Dakar Senegal. The other two are based in one city in South Africa or the other. Generally speaking, the majority of Africa think tanks are based in Cape Town, Dakar and Nairobi.[xvi]

The need for think tanks in Africa

Africa is a continent facing serious challenges including war, coups, AIDS, poverty and malnutrition. For a long time solutions to these problems have been dictated by outsiders such as multi lateral funding agencies and western governments. There is a distinct lack of African voices. For example on agricultural sector there is lack of research institutes that promote and adopt African scientific discoveries. Africa needs more networks with clear themes and shared effort. Agricultural think tanks geared towards promoting and improving indigenous knowledge systems are urgently required. A case in point is the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA)[xvii]. Through ASARECA networks, many key research solutions to agricultural problems have been found and shared among stakeholders within the region. It has also promoted linkages and a common goal among researchers however ASARECA still wallows in inadequate funding.[xviii] Similar networks, if well funded and with broad scope of work, could make a difference in Africa’s agricultural sector.

Although interest groups, or businesses and academic institutions, developed, run most think tanks countries have since embraced the idea and have gone on to establish state funded research institutes.[xix] This is the root that African governments can take to ensure that private and state think tanks work together to help policy formulation. National think tanks enable central government to bridge advocacy and bring in relevant expertise and knowledge in decision- making processes.[xx] African think tanks are essential to development and to disaster preparedness and to [climate] adaptation. Strengthening African institutions is essential to Africa’s ability to predict and respond to complex issues such as climate change or food security.[xxi]

Critique of think tanks

Research undertaken by such think tanks is ideologically driven in accordance with the interests of its funders. Corporate interests have found it useful to create think tanks to advance their profit motives. In America for example, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition was formed in the mid 1990s to dispute research finding a link between second-hand smoke and cancer.[xxii] They are thus open to manipulation and can be used as propaganda tools. Findings from think tanks are often quoted as neutral truths derived from rigorous research without questioning the ideological and political backgrounds of these organisations and their funders. Most think tanks representative a particular perspective and in some instances they appear more like advocacy groups than academic institutions. The perspectives of the poor, marginalised and less powerful are thus rarely represented by think tanks which are in most cases voices of the people who invest and fund in them. Whilst this is true, think tanks however have a critical role to play in Africa. It is imperative to screen and analyze the background and funding sources of institutes before we dismiss all of them as useless. As argued above local or national state funded think tanks are required to counter international ones.

Concluding remarks

Think tanks, which are a norm in most developed countries, particularly the United States, Europe and Asia, help to refine various researches and recommendations for implementation. Africa has lagged behind especially at national level in creating think tanks. Governments need to recognise the value in policy research and advocacy expertise of these institutions. They should however be careful in accepting findings and recommendations from think tanks, which are funded by outsiders because their ideologies might not serve local people. It is thus necessary to promote internal think tanks who have a mandate of promoting indigenous knowledge and value. Policies formulated by Government need to be debated and sold to the people before implementation, if they are to be successful. State funded research institutes can thus be an effective vehicle for policy formulation, implementation and monitoring in Africa.






[i] Africa: Funding boost for Local Think Tanks, www.irinnews.org

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Igwe, U. Africa Short of Thinkers? www.africanexecutive.com

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Nhambura, F. 2010. Zimbabwe: Think Tanks Key in Economic Turnaround, www.herald.co.zw

[vi] Diane Stone ‘Think Tanks and Policy Analysis’, in Frank Fischer, Gerald J. Miller. & Mara S. Sidney (eds.) Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Methods, and Politics, New York, Marcel Dekker Inc. 2006: 149-157

[vii] Nhambura, F. 2010. Zimbabwe: Think Tanks Key in Economic Turnaround, www.herald.co.zw

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Bavoso, J. 2009. Think Tank Review: Sub-Saharan Africa, www.diplomaticourier.org

[xi] Nhambura, F. 2010. Zimbabwe: Think Tanks Key in Economic Turnaround, www.herald.co.zw

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Bavoso, J. 2009. Think Tank Review: Sub-Saharan Africa, www.diplomaticourier.org

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Igwe, U. Africa Short of Thinkers? www.africanexecutive.com

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Ssekyewa C, Does Africa Need Agricultural Think Tanks? www.africanexecutive.com

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] Nhambura, F. 2010. Zimbabwe: Think Tanks Key in Economic Turnaround, www.herald.co.zw

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Africa: Funding boost for Local Think Tanks, www.irinnews.org

[xxii] Rampton, S. and Stauber, J. 2000. How Big Tobacco Helped Create the ‘Junkman’, www.prwatch.org