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John Githongo's recent revelations about corruption in Kenya are timely and welcome. What most people do not realize is that in most 3rd world countries corruption is top-down-bottom-up i.e. it originates from the president, and over 95% of acts of corruption (by value) result in a large (typically 80%) share of the proceeds going back up the ladder directly to the president. The 20% share stays with the perpetrator of the corruption; and the 80% guarantees that the perpetrator enjoys protection at the highest level. The illegal income of the average 3rd world president is usually composed of many many such scams, some very large and others comparatively small. I state the above based on personal experience while working on World Bank and EU Projects in Uganda and Tunisia in 2005.

As Githongo estimates, 7% of the GNP of Kenya disappears in corruption; this is probably a typical value throughout the 3rd world. The result of this is that the functions of government, ministries, police, armed forces etc are totally diverted from their stated purpose into the business of ensuring the required cash flow for the top man. No wonder that most 3rd world governments are ineffective in building their economies, but are remarkably effective in appearing to destroy these self-same economies; no wonder that so many important government functions end up being implemented by aid donors and NGOs. Indeed, because of a multiplier effect, 7% of GNP disappearing in corruption is probably equivalent to a 21 - 28% of GNP loss to the economy.

While we in the West are congratulating ourselves, we should consider the role of our oil companies (especially Shell), our mining companies, and of course the international diamond monopoly, de Beers. These people instigate and collaborate with corruption in order to make 3rd world presidents rich and their people poor; their top management of course benefit, and in some cases their shareholders.

The solution to these problems? First of all, an exposure of this reality and an end to denial and cover-ups by western politicians, western leaders and western media. The populations and voters of western democracies must not turn their backs on their less fortunate fellow humans just because they themselves have money in their pockets. The truth will eventually set free the victims of this anything-but-victimless crime.