Disingenuously, all of a sudden analysts have conveniently ascended to the high moral ground, pretending that the Rio Tinto bribery scandal in the West African state of Guinea is a rare case of a rotten apple of corruption in African mining.
In fact, on the contrary, if truth be told, corruption has been the modus operandi for most mining companies serious about clinching lucrative long-term mining concessions on the continent.
Usually, the paperwork that prospective investors submit would be in order – from proof of access to finance, ability to manage social and environmental impact of potential activity. The main obstacle standing in the way would be usually some high ranking official in the mining ministry who, initially, appears to be inexplicably stubborn, only belatedly, give hints to the hapless representative of a mining company that he needs “some small gift”. And out of desperation, reluctantly, the representative would make the “transaction” on behalf of his company.
Sometimes, some high ranking government official, collaborating the country’s leadership, would short-sightedly grant a mining company mineral rights that would result in the country getting virtually nothing and the bulk of the revenue being repatriated overseas in exchange for paltry million dollars.
As most cases of corruption that have been reported by Transparency International, the body that monitors corruption globally, and Amnesty International, the human right watch dog, have demonstrated that, in most countries in Africa, corruption is almost state-sanctioned.
So, the Rio Tinto occurrence is only the tip of the iceberg of a giant iceberg of corruption.