Using Data Analytics to cure corruption in African countries

Rejoice Olie

November 29, 2020

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Africa, although known for its stubborn corruption flaw, sits on a bountiful harvest of information that can be used in anti-corruption methods. Corruption -- fraudulent and dishonest conduct displayed by those in power over an organization or country -- is the order of the day in Africa as we speak. It is also the major barrier to economic growth, good governance, working systems and basic human rights. Our attention towards the protests and outcry of Africans across the globe is for corruption to be dealt with in their home country. A lot of methods and measures have been used to deal with corruption but what many of them lack is insight into the history of much data about corrupt practices.

Data Analytics is a field of study that involves inspecting, cleaning, modelling and generally analyzing data to make useful conclusions, decisions, and also predictions. It is like the gold standard to solving Africa's biggest problems. Sadly, it is not the most common method to deal with issues like this. Data must not be restricted to businesses alone and can be used in wide-scale applications of a country. It can be a major tool used to deal with corruption and also used to build a good economy afterwards.

Data Analytics can act as a bridge for the government and the masses, that is, if the government desires to know the actual needs of the people, they can carry out research, collect data and use it to carry out deductions and near-accurate predictions to better serve the people they lead. For instance, city planning which is an untapped discipline for data analysis growth, is useful for attaining better accessibility and avoiding congestion in cities. Applying data analysis can lead to effective city planning like predicting the outcome of placing a building in a specific location rather than just anywhere.

Data Analytics can help a country's economy regarding healthcare, education and also fiscal allocation of funds. When detecting and managing risks, involving the use of data analysis to create models for the country to help in curbing fraud and possible bribery can yield great dividends.

To begin, Africans in various countries must ask themselves what they need to do to scale up the use of data analytics to solve corruption.
- What problems or patterns in the country should be addressed?
- What data would be helpful to shed light on the problems that are to be addressed?
- What data do we have now?

Highlighted below are data patchwork which can be used in fighting corruption:
- Procurement data
- Financial disclosures of public servants, their income and assets, their role in awarding contracts, their stocks and shares.
- Tax activity and tax declarations.
- Individuals who have been sanctioned
- Budget data drawn for cities and the country at large
- Data on financial intelligence such as money wired abroad etc.

African countries ought to make sure they create a space for experimental data with the available data they have. This is so they can create a hypothesis which will serve as a guide for larger data. Analytics helps mostly in directing decision-making to produce investigative and preventive resources to curb risks.

With Data Analytics, success will be achieved when dealing with and understanding corruption. Data Analytics will also create access to valuable information about the shortcomings of government data and data systems and also better detection to improve prevention of selected issues.

There are challenges that a Data Analyst may encounter during the process of dealing with corruption. A major challenge would be the struggle to get open data. Africa has a weak structure for sharing data, thus it involves a tedious process to lay hands on data connected to budgets for development projects, or the real fiscal allocation of funds to public servants. For a Data Analyst to work, they need reliable and accurate raw data. Another challenge is to have good data analytical tools, if the data scientists and analyst themselves are not the best, the results will turn out to be poor.

In conclusion, corruption has been long overdue a plague in Africa, solving it has also proved a challenge for the people. But with Data Analytics, the situation can be redeemed. Data Analytics will help to assess trends and patterns of the system and carry out investigations and proper Dialogue to enable the dealing of corruption. However, African countries needs standard open databases and strong data analytics teams to work with.

Join us at our December Inclusivity Summit to discuss this and so much more!

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