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Corruption and the Pursuit of Accountability in Africa

26 February 2011
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Yesterday and today I’m at a small conference, Corruption and the Pursuit of Accountability in Africa, organized by Holly Hanson and Godfrey Asiimwe and held at Mount Holyoke College. The papers are not being publicly circulated yet, but once they’re available, I’ll share them. It’s been quite an interesting program thus far, with a lot of discussion about the recent election in Uganda and recent events in North Africa and what potential there is in sub-Saharan Africa to have an uprising. Here is a copy of the program:

Corruption and the Pursuit of Accountability in Africa Conference
Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley MA

Keynote Address:
“Corruption and capital flight from Africa: a tale of the grabbing hand and the helping hand”
Leonce Ndikumana
Director Operational Resources and Policy, African Development Bank

Panel 1
Daniel Jordan Smith, Anthropology, Brown, “’Feeding Fat on AIDS’: NGOs and Corruption in Nigeria”
Kearsley Stewart, Anthropology, Northwestern, “Have Ugandans Had Enough?: The Case of Embezzled Global Fund Money and Evidence for an Emerging Moral Gradient of Corruption”
Kim Yi Dionne, Political Science, Texas A&M, “Nested Principal-Agent Problems and Corruption: A Case Study of HIV/AIDS Interventions in Africa”

Roundtable: Citizen Action and Accountability south of the Sahara

Panel 2
Mwangi wa Githinji, Economics, UMass, & Frank Holmquist, Political Science, Hampshire, “Transparency without Accountability: the case of political reform in Kenya”
Godfrey Asiimwe, Development Studies, Makerere, “Of elusive corruption and slippery panacea: Towards Understanding Corruption under the NRM in Uganda.”
Funso Afolayan, History, UNH, “Corruption and Political Accountability in Nigeria”

Panel 3
David Mednicoff, Public Policy/Social and Political Thought, UMass, “What straws broke the camels’ backs? Corruption and anti-regime mobilization in Tunisia and Egypt”
Ato Onoma, Political Science, Yale, “The exceptional in the struggle against misrule”
Munya Bryn Munochiveyi, History, Holy Cross, “Oracles and Governance in post-colonial Zimbabwe: The Case of the Diesel N’anga”

Conference Summary and concluding remarks
Nelson Kasfir, Political Science, Dartmouth

In addition to the folks on the program, there were some attendees from the five colleges, from universities in the Boston area, and even some from Western New York. I’m reminded how much I enjoy interdisciplinary discussion, meeting new colleagues who work in Africa, and I’m reminded that UCLA had an amazing history in African Studies (I’ve met two alumnae and a former visiting professor). I have also re-learned what it’s like to drive in the snow (Texas, I miss you!).

Until I re-draft the paper I’ve written based on the feedback I’ve received, I’ll share the abstract here:

This paper is an analytic narrative studying corruption in HIV/AIDS interventions in Africa. HIV/AIDS interventions are structured such that multiple actors are involved across borders and levels of governance. I argue such a structure – referred to in this paper as “nested principal-agent problems” – produces multiple opportunities for corruption. Focusing on the cases of Kenya and Malawi, I analyze the content of media reports and available audit documents to substantiate the existence of grand and petty corruption in HIV/AIDS interventions. I use these cases to propose a theory of how policy preference alignment across principal-agent relationships can influence the incidence of corruption.

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